STFC High Performance Computing facility honoured as a Leader by the Global HPC community

The SGI UV2000 and subsidiary systems of the COSMOS SHARED MEMORY service in Cambridge.
(Credit: DiRAC)

November 17 2015 — The STFC DiRAC HPC Facility and the Stephen Hawking Centre for Theoretical Cosmology (CTC) at the University of Cambridge have been recognized in the annual HPCwire Readers’ and Editors’ Choice Awards for their work in the incredibly complex field of cosmological statistics with the following honour:

  • Readers Choice: Best Use of High Performance Data Analytics

The award was for the impressive many-core acceleration of the MODAL analysis pipeline which offered new statistical insights from the Cosmic Microwave Background as observed by the ESA Planck Satellite – Planck is also an STFC-funded project. The work was achieved on the first Intel Xeon Phi-enabled SGI UV2000 with its co-designed ‘MG Blade’ Phi-housing, part of a portfolio of innovative UK systems overseen by the DiRAC Facility.

Professor Paul Shellard, CTC Director said: ““We are thrilled to have received this international award in high performance computing. It is recognition of a unique synergy that we have developed between world-leading researchers from the STFC DiRAC HPC Facility and industry-leading vendors like Intel and SGI which aims to get maximum impact from new many-core technologies for our data analytic pipelines. Dramatic speed-ups have been achieved for our Planck satellite analysis and other codes through a potent combination of new parallel programming paradigms and architectural co-design; these capabilities are opening up new windows on our Universe.”

The STFC supported DiRAC facility (Distributed Research utilising Advanced Computing) is the integrated supercomputing facility for theoretical modelling and HPC-based research in particle physics, nuclear physics, astronomy and cosmology, areas in which the UK is world-leading. It was funded as a result of investment of £12.32 million, from the UK Government's Large Facilities Capital Fund, together with investment from STFC and from universities.

As part of the STFC DiRAC HPC Facility the CTC operates the COSMOS hybrid shared-memory supercomputer.

The Readers Choice award was presented at the 2015 International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis (SC15), in Austin, Texas. These annual Awards represent prestigious recognition from the global HPC community.

Tom Tabor, CEO of Tabor Communications, publisher of HPCwire, said "HPCwire readers are among the most informed in the HPC community and these awards are ultimately given to the organizations that are making the greatest impact in advancing technology and humanity itself through high performance computing.”

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Jake Gilmore

DiRAC

STFC DiRAC (Distributed Research utilising Advanced Computing) is the integrated supercomputing facility for theoretical modelling and HPC-based research in particle physics, nuclear physics, astronomy and cosmology, areas in which the UK is world-leading. It was funded as a result of investment of £12.32 million, from the Government's Large Facilities Capital Fund, together with investment from STFC and from universities. In 2012, the DiRAC facility was upgraded with a further £15 million capital investment from government (DiRAC II).

DiRAC is operated by UCL, Edinburgh University, University of Cambridge, University of Durham and the University of Leicester on behalf of the STFC Particle Physics, Astrophysics and Nuclear Physics communities. These operations are overseen by STFC. DIRAC is funded by both BIS and STFC. Computational resources are awarded by peer review, which is administered by STFC.

As a single Facility, DiRAC allows more effective and efficient use of equipment, promotes the science goals of the STFC communities, provides a common training and consultation framework and, crucially, provides critical mass and a coordinating structure for both small and large scale cross-discipline science projects, the technical support needed to run and develop a distributed HPC service, and potential knowledge transfer and industrial partnership projects. The continued pooling of complementary expertise will ensure that the UK remains one of the world-leaders of theoretical modelling in particle physics, astrophysics and nuclear physics.

The Stephen Hawking Centre for Theoretical Cosmology

The Centre for Theoretical Cosmology (CTC) was established by Professor Stephen Hawking in 2007. It exists to advance the scientific understanding of our Universe, taking forward the vision of its founder. The centre hosts and operates the COSMOS supercomputer, as part of the UK wide DiRAC consortium funded by STFC. The CTC employs HPC programmers who collaborate on scientific software projects with CTC researchers and interface with our industry partners SGI and Intel.

HPCwire

HPCwire is the #1 news and information resource covering the fastest computers in the world and the people who run them. With a legacy dating back to 1986, HPCwire has enjoyed a legacy of world-class editorial and journalism, making it the news source of choice selected by science, technology and business professionals interested in high performance and data-intensive computing.

Planck

Planck - The European Space Agency’s Planck space observatory was launched in 2009 together with the Herschel satellite. Planck's objective is to analyse, with the highest accuracy ever achieved, the remnants of the radiation that filled the Universe immediately after the Big Bang (Cosmic Microwave Background – CMB). STFC supported the development and construction of the instrumentation and supports science exploitation of the scientific data yielded by Planck.

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000