HPC Wales Taps Fujitsu to Build Supercomputing Grid

By Michael Feldman

March 23, 2011

HPC Wales has selected Fujitsu to deliver a 190-teraflop high performance computing grid that will be deployed at a number of sites across the Welsh countryside. Fujitsu will be paid £15m ($24 million) over the next four years to set up and maintain the computing infrastructure for the project, as well as provide application and computing expertise.

Announced in July 2010, HPC Wales is an ambititous five-year project intended to kickstart the use of high performance computing across academia and industry in Wales — and potentially further afield. The idea is to construct a supercomputing grid for supporting university R&D to be used as a springboard for commercial HPC adoption. Major targeted applications include digital entertainment, environment and energy, life sciences, advanced materials, and manufacturing.

HPC Wales hopes to be able to sell supercomputing time to regional businesses to help support and grow the effort, but most of the impetus behind the effort is being driven by the academic research community. More than 100 HPC-ready projects encompassing 540 researchers have already been identified. Of these, 80 percent had either current business partners or potential commercial applications.

The project is being funded to the tune of £40m: £19m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and European Social Fund (ESF), and £10m from the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The remainder will come locally from collaborating academic institutions, the Welsh Assembly Government, and the private sector. About £4 million of this is coming from Fujitsu, itself, who is investing in the project as a partner. HPC Wales will be managed by a non-profit alliance set up by the St David’s Day Group of Universities and the University of Wales.

The deal will mark the return of Fujitsu-bred HPC to the United Kingdom after a 10-year hiatus. It will also represent the company’s largest HPC deployment in Europe to date. Although the Japan-based firm is multinational in scope, in the HPC arena Fujitsu has tended to stick close to home, collecting government-backed HPC deals at a fairly regular clip.

Thanks to the project, 450 Fujitsu employees will be now be working at offices in Swansea and Cardiff, a sizable contingent given the relatively modest size of the contract. To put that in perspective, Cray would have had to send more than half its workforce to Wales to equal this effort.

No information was forthcoming about other vendors bidding on the contract, but one can speculate that Tier 1’s with a strong European presence (such as IBM, HP, and Bull) were also in the running. The fact that Fujitsu was awarded the deal is something of a coup, and suggests the Japanese computer maker was serious about its intentions to become an HPC technology exporter.

Not that the company lacks the HPC cred to close a big deal. Fujitsu is the primary contractor for Japan’s Next Generation Supercomputing Project. The company became the lone system vendor when NEC and Hitachi backed out of the project in in 2009. That work will culminate in the 2012 deployment of a 10-petaflop SPARC 64 VIIIfx-based “K system” supercomputer for the government-backed RIKEN research institute.

Nothing quite so exotic for the Welsh, however. The HPC Wales computing grid will be made up of 1,400 Fujitsu Primergy servers, using Intel Xeon processors and InfinBand interconnects. The individual clusters, which will be installed at 12 different sites, will run either Linux or Windows. Those individual systems will use similar technology to Fujitsu’s Primergy BX900 machine at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency. That system alone tops 190 teraflops — larger than the entire HPC Wales setup.

Other vendors that will be supplying equipment or software for the project include Intel, Platform Computing, Microsoft, Mellanox, DataDirect Networks, Cisco and Symantec.

The major hubs for HPC Wales will be at Swansea University/Pembrokeshire Science and Technology Park and Cardiff University, with links to smaller systems at Swansea, Aberystwyth, Bangor and the University of Glamorgan. Additional links will be made to the University of Wales Alliance Universities and participating businesses.

The server clusters at the individual sites will be hooked up via a high bandwidth network (the details of which were not immediately available) so as to make the computing resources available as a grid. Fujitsu’s secret sauce is their SynfiniWay middleware technology, which will provide a service-oriented framework for the grid in the style of a private cloud. Basically SynfiniWay manages workflows through the grid/cloud by way of its meta-scheduler, while providing a high-level interface to the end user that hides most of the messy details of the hardware infrastructure.

The overarching goal of the project is to stimulate the Welsh economy and make the area a regional base for high performance computing. The effort is projected to bring in an additional £22.8m of economic output over the next 10 years, while creating over 400 high-end jobs and at least 10 new businesses. That seems fairly modest in scope, especially considering the £40m input for the project.

Although the project is only funded for five years, all the stakeholders hope and expect the work will be extended well beyond 2015.  To make that possible the project will have to attract enough commercial partners to become self-sustaining such that it can cover operational and equipment costs going forward. If successful, it could become a model for other efforts to mainstream HPC for commercial users.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Google Gets First Dibs on New Skylake Chips

February 27, 2017

As part of an ongoing effort to differentiate its public cloud services, Google made good this week on its intention to bring custom Xeon Skylake chips from Intel Corp. Read more…

By George Leopold

Thomas Sterling on CREST and Academia’s Role in HPC Research

February 27, 2017

The US advances in high performance computing over many decades have been a product of the combined engagement of research centers in industry, government labs, and academia. Read more…

By Thomas Sterling, Indiana University

Advancing Modular Supercomputing with DEEP and DEEP-ER Architectures

February 24, 2017

Knowing that the jump to exascale will require novel architectural approaches capable of delivering dramatic efficiency and performance gains, researchers around the world are hard at work on next-generation HPC systems. Read more…

By Sean Thielen

Weekly Twitter Roundup (Feb. 23, 2017)

February 23, 2017

Here at HPCwire, we aim to keep the HPC community apprised of the most relevant and interesting news items that get tweeted throughout the week. Read more…

By Thomas Ayres

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Manufacturers Reaping the Benefits of Remote Visualization

Today’s manufacturers are operating in an ever-changing atmosphere, and finding new ways to boost productivity has never been more vital.

This is why manufacturers are ramping up their investments in high performance computing (HPC), a trend which has helped give rise to the “connected factory” and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) concepts that are proliferating throughout the industry today. Read more…

HPE Server Shows Low Latency on STAC-N1 Test

February 22, 2017

The performance of trade and match servers can be a critical differentiator for financial trading houses. Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Financial Update (Feb. 2017)

February 22, 2017

In this recurring feature, we’ll provide you with financial highlights from companies in the HPC industry. Check back in regularly for an updated list with the most pertinent fiscal information. Read more…

By Thomas Ayres

Rethinking HPC Platforms for ‘Second Gen’ Applications

February 22, 2017

Just what constitutes HPC and how best to support it is a keen topic currently. Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Technique Propels Deep Learning at Scale

February 21, 2017

Researchers from Baidu’s Silicon Valley AI Lab (SVAIL) have adapted a well-known HPC communication technique to boost the speed and scale of their neural network training and now they are sharing their implementation with the larger deep learning community. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Thomas Sterling on CREST and Academia’s Role in HPC Research

February 27, 2017

The US advances in high performance computing over many decades have been a product of the combined engagement of research centers in industry, government labs, and academia. Read more…

By Thomas Sterling, Indiana University

Advancing Modular Supercomputing with DEEP and DEEP-ER Architectures

February 24, 2017

Knowing that the jump to exascale will require novel architectural approaches capable of delivering dramatic efficiency and performance gains, researchers around the world are hard at work on next-generation HPC systems. Read more…

By Sean Thielen

HPC Technique Propels Deep Learning at Scale

February 21, 2017

Researchers from Baidu’s Silicon Valley AI Lab (SVAIL) have adapted a well-known HPC communication technique to boost the speed and scale of their neural network training and now they are sharing their implementation with the larger deep learning community. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IDC: Will the Real Exascale Race Please Stand Up?

February 21, 2017

So the exascale race is on. And lots of organizations are in the pack. Government announcements from the US, China, India, Japan, and the EU indicate that they are working hard to make it happen – some sooner, some later. Read more…

By Bob Sorensen, IDC

TSUBAME3.0 Points to Future HPE Pascal-NVLink-OPA Server

February 17, 2017

Since our initial coverage of the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer yesterday, more details have come to light on this innovative project. Of particular interest is a new board design for NVLink-equipped Pascal P100 GPUs that will create another entrant to the space currently occupied by Nvidia's DGX-1 system, IBM's "Minsky" platform and the Supermicro SuperServer (1028GQ-TXR). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tokyo Tech’s TSUBAME3.0 Will Be First HPE-SGI Super

February 16, 2017

In a press event Friday afternoon local time in Japan, Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) announced its plans for the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer, which will be Japan’s “fastest AI supercomputer,” Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Drug Developers Use Google Cloud HPC in the Fight Against ALS

February 16, 2017

Within the haystack of a lethal disease such as ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis / Lou Gehrig’s Disease) there exists, somewhere, the needle that will pierce this therapy-resistant affliction. Read more…

By Doug Black

Azure Edges AWS in Linpack Benchmark Study

February 15, 2017

The “when will clouds be ready for HPC” question has ebbed and flowed for years. Read more…

By John Russell

For IBM/OpenPOWER: Success in 2017 = (Volume) Sales

January 11, 2017

To a large degree IBM and the OpenPOWER Foundation have done what they said they would – assembling a substantial and growing ecosystem and bringing Power-based products to market, all in about three years. Read more…

By John Russell

US, China Vie for Supercomputing Supremacy

November 14, 2016

The 48th edition of the TOP500 list is fresh off the presses and while there is no new number one system, as previously teased by China, there are a number of notable entrants from the US and around the world and significant trends to report on. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Lighting up Aurora: Behind the Scenes at the Creation of the DOE’s Upcoming 200 Petaflops Supercomputer

December 1, 2016

In April 2015, U.S. Department of Energy Undersecretary Franklin Orr announced that Intel would be the prime contractor for Aurora: Read more…

By Jan Rowell

D-Wave SC16 Update: What’s Bo Ewald Saying These Days

November 18, 2016

Tucked in a back section of the SC16 exhibit hall, quantum computing pioneer D-Wave has been talking up its new 2000-qubit processor announced in September. Forget for a moment the criticism sometimes aimed at D-Wave. This small Canadian company has sold several machines including, for example, ones to Lockheed and NASA, and has worked with Google on mapping machine learning problems to quantum computing. In July Los Alamos National Laboratory took possession of a 1000-quibit D-Wave 2X system that LANL ordered a year ago around the time of SC15. Read more…

By John Russell

Enlisting Deep Learning in the War on Cancer

December 7, 2016

Sometime in Q2 2017 the first ‘results’ of the Joint Design of Advanced Computing Solutions for Cancer (JDACS4C) will become publicly available according to Rick Stevens. He leads one of three JDACS4C pilot projects pressing deep learning (DL) into service in the War on Cancer. Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Wants to be “Red Hat” of Deep Learning

January 26, 2017

IBM today announced the addition of TensorFlow and Chainer deep learning frameworks to its PowerAI suite of deep learning tools, which already includes popular offerings such as Caffe, Theano, and Torch. Read more…

By John Russell

Tokyo Tech’s TSUBAME3.0 Will Be First HPE-SGI Super

February 16, 2017

In a press event Friday afternoon local time in Japan, Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) announced its plans for the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer, which will be Japan’s “fastest AI supercomputer,” Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Startup Advances Auto-Parallelization’s Promise

January 23, 2017

The shift from single core to multicore hardware has made finding parallelism in codes more important than ever, but that hasn’t made the task of parallel programming any easier. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

CPU Benchmarking: Haswell Versus POWER8

June 2, 2015

With OpenPOWER activity ramping up and IBM’s prominent role in the upcoming DOE machines Summit and Sierra, it’s a good time to look at how the IBM POWER CPU stacks up against the x86 Xeon Haswell CPU from Intel. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

BioTeam’s Berman Charts 2017 HPC Trends in Life Sciences

January 4, 2017

Twenty years ago high performance computing was nearly absent from life sciences. Today it’s used throughout life sciences and biomedical research. Genomics and the data deluge from modern lab instruments are the main drivers, but so is the longer-term desire to perform predictive simulation in support of Precision Medicine (PM). There’s even a specialized life sciences supercomputer, ‘Anton’ from D.E. Shaw Research, and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is standing up its second Anton 2 and actively soliciting project proposals. There’s a lot going on. Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Sees Bright Future for AI Supercomputing

November 23, 2016

Graphics chipmaker Nvidia made a strong showing at SC16 in Salt Lake City last week. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

TSUBAME3.0 Points to Future HPE Pascal-NVLink-OPA Server

February 17, 2017

Since our initial coverage of the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer yesterday, more details have come to light on this innovative project. Of particular interest is a new board design for NVLink-equipped Pascal P100 GPUs that will create another entrant to the space currently occupied by Nvidia's DGX-1 system, IBM's "Minsky" platform and the Supermicro SuperServer (1028GQ-TXR). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IDG to Be Bought by Chinese Investors; IDC to Spin Out HPC Group

January 19, 2017

US-based publishing and investment firm International Data Group, Inc. (IDG) will be acquired by a pair of Chinese investors, China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co., Ltd. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Dell Knights Landing Machine Sets New STAC Records

November 2, 2016

The Securities Technology Analysis Center, commonly known as STAC, has released a new report characterizing the performance of the Knight Landing-based Dell PowerEdge C6320p server on the STAC-A2 benchmarking suite, widely used by the financial services industry to test and evaluate computing platforms. The Dell machine has set new records for both the baseline Greeks benchmark and the large Greeks benchmark. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Is Liquid Cooling Ready to Go Mainstream?

February 13, 2017

Lost in the frenzy of SC16 was a substantial rise in the number of vendors showing server oriented liquid cooling technologies. Three decades ago liquid cooling was pretty much the exclusive realm of the Cray-2 and IBM mainframe class products. That’s changing. We are now seeing an emergence of x86 class server products with exotic plumbing technology ranging from Direct-to-Chip to servers and storage completely immersed in a dielectric fluid. Read more…

By Steve Campbell

What Knights Landing Is Not

June 18, 2016

As we get ready to launch the newest member of the Intel Xeon Phi family, code named Knights Landing, it is natural that there be some questions and potentially some confusion. Read more…

By James Reinders, Intel

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This