Sci-Tech Daresbury

13 June 2013

STFC works with NVIDIA to increase UK computer performance by 1,000 times

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has today (13 June 2013) signed an agreement with NVIDIA, the world leader in visual and high-performance computing, to develop GPU-based supercomputers that aim to be a thousand times more powerful than any in the UK today. These powerful computers will provide a step-change for researchers and industry in areas such as climate modelling, stress analysis, materials modelling, molecular modelling, and numerical weather simulation.

Leveraging NVIDIA’s expertise in high-performance computing, STFC will develop the software necessary to enable the exascale-class supercomputers which will contain hundreds of thousands of graphics processing units (GPUs) capable of performing a million trillion calculations per second.

The agreement between NVIDIA and STFC follows a £37.5m investment in March last year by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in High Performance Computing at Daresbury Laboratory as part of its UK e-infrastructure initiative.

David Corney, Acting Director of STFC’s Department of Scientific Computing, said: “This agreement combines NVIDIA’s leading-edge GPU accelerator technologies and HPC expertise with STFC’s software development expertise. This unique combination will enable the development of next-generation massively parallel applications which will be used for exascale performance levels, or a thousand times more powerful than Blue Joule at STFC, the most powerful computer in the UK today.”

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: “The Government is investing in high performance computing to make the UK the location of choice for high tech research and innovation. This partnership will bring together leading researchers and business. It confirms the position of Daresbury and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory as world-class science facilities. It supports our forthcoming Information Economy Industrial Strategy.”

The collaboration will offer scientists access to one of the largest software development laboratories in the world, STFC’s Hartree Centre at Daresbury Laboratory, which is dedicated to modelling and simulation software, and to NVIDIA expertise. This will allow academia and industry to fully exploit the benefits of current and future High Performance Computing (HPC) systems resulting in much faster and higher quality outcomes.

Professor John Womersley, Chief Executive STFC, said: “By bringing together the expertise of STFC and NVIDIA we’ll be able to provide significant capabilities to both existing and new partners of both organisations. Academia and industry are increasingly making use of HPC and big data to improve the quality of their output, reduce time to value, and make more productive use of their research and development spend. This is an excellent example of STFC working with industrial collaborators for the benefit of the UK economy and research base.”

Key benefits to researchers include:

  • The design of new algorithms and approaches to fully utilise future HPC infrastructure (e.g. utilising future hybrid computing technology)
  • Training support for industry and research application developers in the use of parallel computing techniques

“Our common goal is to help scientists and engineers develop better software, enabling them to run simulations which have previously been too complex,” said Shanker Trivedi, Vice President, Professional Solutions at NVIDIA. “Working together, STFC and NVIDIA will help researchers accelerate scientific discovery and industrial research in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.”

The longer term objectives of the agreement include:

  • Development of programming models and paradigms for accelerator based systems
  • Development of applications for future generations of accelerator based systems
  • Development of a cadre of experts capable of teaching programming methodologies for accelerator based systems to the UK computational science community.