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£3.2m for Midlands-based high performance computing centre

High performance computing
High performance computing

2 February 2017

  • Seven universities’ expertise will drive research and innovation
  • Institutions and businesses able to maximise opportunities faster and cheaper
  • Midlands Innovation group is world-class research and industry partnership

The Midlands Innovation group of universities – which includes Aston - plus Queen Mary University of London have been awarded £3.2 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to establish HPC Midlands Plus - a centre of excellence in high performance computing. 

High performance computing (HPC) is used to undertake complex simulations, to find solutions for challenging problems and to process vast quantities of data. It has the potential to act as a catalyst for breakthroughs across a wide range of sectors – from engineering, manufacturing and transport to finance, healthcare and energy.

HPC Midlands Plus, which will be based at Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park, will harness the seven universities’ collective expertise in high performance computing to drive forward research and innovation in this growing area. 

It will feature a 14,336 core supercomputer with 65 TB RAM, high-speed Infiniband interconnect and a 1 PB file store supplied by ClusterVision and Huawei. It will also contain a large memory Power8 component for massive data processing with a dedicated high speed file store. 

HPC Midlands Plus will provide technical support, training and expertise over a range of disciplines. Research software engineers will be employed at each of the partner universities to help users scale their codes to the new system and train new users. 

The centre will be used by universities, research organisations and businesses around the country, who will be able to maximise research and innovation opportunities faster and cheaper than ever before. 

Professor Steven Kenny, Director of HPC Midlands Plus, said: “High performance computing technology pervades our everyday lives. For instance it is used in the design of aircraft engines and cars, the exploration of new materials for energy generation and storage, and the delivery of personalised healthcare. 

“The universities involved in the consortium have so far used high performance computing to address a number of global challenges. The establishment of HPC Midlands Plus will enable us to combine our power to explore how high performance computing can impact even more sectors and emerging areas such as quantum technologies.”

HPC Midlands Plus is due to be officially launched in the spring of this year. 

Notes to editors 

Midlands Innovation is a world-class research and innovation partnership, combining the collective excellence of six leading universities in the heart of the UK – Aston, Birmingham, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick. It unites the power of university research with the unique strengths of Midlands industry to drive cutting-edge research, innovation and skills development. 

HPC Midlands Plus is a ‘Tier 2’ centre of excellence. The UK’s HPC ecosystem comprises Tier 0 and 1 (national-level) facilities, Tier 2 (regional) facilities and Tier 3 (local university) facilities. 

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the main funding agency for engineering and physical sciences research. Its vision is for the UK to be the best place in the world to Research, Discover and Innovate. By investing £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, it is building the knowledge and skills base needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation. Its portfolio covers a vast range of fields from healthcare technologies to structural engineering, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry. The research it funds has impact across all sectors. It provides a platform for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. It works collectively with its partners and other Research Councils on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.  

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston University has been always been a force for change. For 50 years the University has been transforming lives through pioneering research, innovative teaching and graduate employability success. Aston is renowned for its opportunity enabler through broad access and inspiring academics, providing education that is applied and has real impact on all areas of society, business and industry. True to Aston’s Coat of Arms which bears the word ‘Forward’, in 2016 Aston held a year-long anniversary celebration to recognise its heritage and achievements, but with a focus to drive forward the next stage in the University’s exciting journey. www.aston.ac.uk/50 

For more information, call Susi Turner, Press & PR Officer, on 0121 204 4978 or email s.j.turner@aston.ac.uk   

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