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March 22, 2011

Fujitsu Renews HPC Vows with UK Grid Project

Nicole Hemsoth

Fujitsu is no stranger to the high-performance computing space, even if it has been mum for a number of months in Europe and to some extent, the Americas. The company was the force behind Japan’s first supercomputer back in 1977 and is currently working on its next-gen “K Computer” system, although progress might be halted due to recent disruptive events in the country.

According to a release today, Fujitsu is in the midst of attempting its reemergence into the HPC space with an emphasis on projects in the UK. As one of the first steps in its renewed push into high performance computing the company announced a £15 million project to create a distributed grid for HPC Wales and two other hubs, including Cardiff and Pembroke Dock.

The HPC Wales project was announced last summer as an initiative to make Wales a center for supercomputing to improve economic and technological development in the region. Backers for the HPC Wales project, including the Welsh Assembly Government, anticipate that the project could bring in roughly £22 million over the course of a decade and lead to the creation of over 400 jobs, which they also expect will spin out new businesses.

The grid initiative will focus on HPC’s role in sustainable research projects, life sciences, and materials and manufacturing-related missions. As an extension of the creation of the grid, Fujitsu will also be lending experience and resources from Fujitsu Laboratories.

The HPC Wales project is slated to include more than 1400 nodes that will be distributed across 8 (possibly more) locations. To attain distributed infrastructure to allow dispersed parties to make use of the resource, each system is interconnected with SynifiniWay, which is Fujitsu’s middleware technology. The system will be build using Fujitu’s Xeon-based Primergy cluster servers strung together with Infiniband and running both Linux and Windows.

The project includes support from a number of traditional HPC vendors, including Platform Computing, Mellanox, DataDirect Networks (DDN), Cisco, Symantec and of course, Microsoft and Intel.

The company stated in an announcement that they believe “the HPC market is changing dramatically and that the time is now to capitalize on its heritage and breadth of capability, i.e. research, network infrastructure and data centers, to enable a wider set of organizations to benefit from the commercial opportunities realized through high performance computing.”

As Lesley Griffiths, a representative from the Welsh government’s Science, Innovation and Skills agency noted, HPC Wales will be dedicated to modeling to solve complex problems. Griffiths stated that “HPC Wales will deliver the capacity to handle and analyze mind-boggling amounts of data at high speed…It will have a significant impact on the economy, on research, and on driving innovation and competitiveness and high-level skills development.”