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January 8, 2013

University of Liverpool Signs Up for Bull Supercomputer

Ian Armas Foster

The University of Liverpool is set to install a new supercomputer to help advance the state of British high performance computing. According to a CRN report, Bull Information Systems has signed a deal to deliver a new 40-teraflop supercomputer to the university. The contract, which Bull calls a “strategic alliance deal,” will last five years and is valued at 800,000 pounds.

Bull officials say they won the contract because of their high performance computing expertise – they claim to employ 600 HPC professionals – and their “independent approach.”

In a Computing Business Review article, Andrew Carr, CEO of Bull UK & Ireland, explained the importance of HPC to Britain. ”The world’s leading economies are increasingly recognizing the importance of high-performance computing in driving faster, more efficient design and ultimately competitive edge,” said Carr. “European governments, businesses, centres of research and academia like the University of Liverpool are increasingly catching up with their counterparts in the US in this respect.”

The new system, which is to be built using Intel’s “Sandy Bridge” processors, will employ Bull’s bullx blade platform and supercomputer software suite. As reported by Datacenter Dynamics, Bull says that the system will accommodate fast data transfer and scalable job support with their InfiniBand fabric.

This is the second HPC system Bull has agreed to deliver to a European university in the last month. The company reached an agreement in December with the Dresden University of Technology to install a petascale supercomputer and initiate a research initiative, an investment in the neighborhood of 15 million Euros.  That system will also be based on the company bullx blade servers.

While the Liverpool system will be relatively modest by comparison, it represents an effort by the British research community to broaden its HPC capability. There are few better places to start that process than in Liverpool, whose collection of HPC clusters are approaching the end of their useful lives.

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