Research IT

Major Investment in HPC for Research and Student Research Projects

We are pleased to announce a £800k investment for local HPC facilities this summer, both for research and for taught Postgraduate and final year Undergraduate project students, a first for the University.

Thanks to efforts by Prof Caroline Jay, Joint Head of Research in the School of Engineering, and Simon Hood, Head of Research Infrastructure, postgraduate taught (PGT) students and final year undergraduate (UG) students from the Faculty of Science and Engineering can now access the CSF (Computational Shared Facility), the University's flagship HPC system for compute.

The £800k investment taking place this summer consists of £360k of investment from research contributors and £440k from the Faculties of Science and Engineering (FSE) and Natural Sciences primarily to allow project students use of the CSF.

Previously PGT and UG access to the CSF was restricted as funding for the facility was entirely for research purposes. This extra investment will enable Research IT to properly support computationally intensive project work by PGTs and UGs from FSE. Simon Hood said, ”This will make a huge difference to how much we can help a whole new group of people — people who may well be researchers at the University in a year or two!”

He said the investment would allow for the purchase of:

  • 1000 CPU cores to add to the CSF, for a wide range or work, and
  • 16 state-of-the-art Nvidia A100 computational GPUs to be used for AI/Machine Learning etc.

Simon worked with Caroline to make the case for extra investment after she noted requests from academics in the annual FSE equipment call. They’d realised it was essential not just for long term research projects, but also the kinds of activities our taught students were undertaking. The requests were consolidated by Caroline and put to the Leadership teams from the School of Natural Sciences and the School of Engineering. Both were highly supportive with the Faculty of Science and Engineering leadership team agreeing to the request for extra investment.

This investment will make the CSF available to any student in FSE who wishes to undertake individual project work, and use case pilots will take place on other student activities and course units covering scenarios such as analysing large datasets, machine learning, modelling and simulations etc.

Giving CSF access to PGT and UG students puts the University well ahead of the curve explained Caroline. As a research-intensive university it shows we are committed to supporting our students in using leading-edge computational methods. “Across every domain, science is relying increasingly on computation. We’re delighted to announce this investment in the Computational Shared Facility alongside the opening of our new Engineering Campus Development for teaching and learning, ensuring that our Science and Engineering students will have access to world class facilities across the board."