Research IT

Major Development of The CIR Platforms

We have recently made some significant changes to our computationally intensive research (CIR) platforms, DPSF and CSF2. Find out what has changed and how this will affect your research!

The popular Data-Processing Shared Facility (DPSF) service has ended resulting in the removal of the last legacy of research-related IT infrastructure from the former Faculty of Life Sciences (FLS). In its first incarnation, the DPSF was known as Hydra and was funded solely by academics from FLS and tailored for high-memory data-processing with all compute nodes having either 256 GB or 512 GB RAM. An injection of £250k from The University back in 2015 increased the size of the cluster and opened up access to all University researchers regardless of Faculty.

Why has The DPSF been decommissioned?

1. Other systems such as FLS data storage and VM farms had already been decommissioned with data and services moved to central platforms, including compute systems.

2. The CSF3 is coming! The existing CSF2, which is the University's flagship compute service, is in need of a refresh of the operating system and infrastructure hardware, and requires enhancements essential to enable the addition of the latest compute node architectures (e.g. Skylake processors). New infrastructure around which to build a CSF3 was recently installed.

3. For various reasons there is no longer a need to keep the DPSF separate from the CSF so it was agreed by stakeholders that it be merged into the CSF as part of the CSF3 project. One large cluster will be easier to use, manage, support and is more cost-effective.

4. The newer compute nodes from The DPSF have now been migrated into the CSF3 with the older compute nodes having been decommissioned. The software and users from DPSF have also been transferred to CSF3.

What next?

1. The CSF3 project is now focused on upgrading the CSF2 and making it a part of CSF3. Installation of CSF2 applications on CSF3 is in progress and some compute nodes will move very soon. As the project progresses more nodes will move and we can then begin to transfer groups of users to CSF3.

2. We have just ordered 4000 Skylake cores via the Research Lifecycle Programme which will bring the total cores in the CSF to 15,000!

3. The former Faculty of MHS has a lot of legacy research IT systems. We will be helping to assess these over the coming months with a view to then do further work to upgrade or move them to central services.

If you have any questions about the recent changes then please get in touch!