Climate change computer given the green light
Swansea University will be launching The Mike Barnsley Centre for Climate Research, named in recognition of former Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Mike Barnsley’s outstanding contribution to both the University and the field of environmental science on Friday, October 31, 2008.
Taking place during a European Open Day at Technium Pembrokeshire, one of ten Technium hubs across Wales dedicated to driving forward enterprise and innovation, the launch of the Centre will unveil a new IBM supercomputer, Blue Ice.
Surrounded by a spectacular visualisation suite, this surprisingly small supercomputer is the latest addition to the family of ‘blue’ supercomputers in south west Wales and will be officially switched on during the launch as part of an address by Professor Tavi Murray, the Centre’s Scientific Director.
As Professor of Glaciology at Swansea University’s School of the Environment and Society, Professor Murray’s primary areas of interest include fast flowing glaciers and ice streams as well as glacier instabilities. In particular, her work in these areas aims to measure past and predict future contribution from glaciers and ice sheets to sea-level rise and, in turn, the repercussions that such sea-level rises will have.
As one of the most rapidly changing parts of the cryosphere, and with many glaciers experiencing rapid thinning, time is of the essence in discovering the effects of these drastic changes.
This is where Blue Ice can help.
The main system has 640 cores and a peak performance of 6.8 Teraflops (an industry-recognised measure of high performance computing where ‘Tera’ is 1012 and ‘flops’ stands for floating point operations per second), while the neighbouring Cell based development platform provides an additional 3.6 Teraflops performance.
One of the most powerful supercomputers in Wales, Blue Ice will allow its users to perform calculations in a fraction of the time needed by a regular computer.
Add to this tremendous performance the power of five DCV (Deep Computing Visualisation) workstations and four CUBE displays and users will also be able to convert any scientific data generated by Blue Ice into meaningful images, leading to better interpretation of the results.
This visualisation aspect, together with implementation and ongoing support of Blue Ice, is the result of a collaboration with OCF, one of the UK’s premier High Performance Computing (HPC) integrator.
The ‘icing on the cake’, however, is that the entire operation has also been specifically designed to be energy efficient.
Blue Ice is housed in a brand new ‘green’ data centre and boasts energy efficient CPUs, which provide the high performance computing within a small physical footprint. Indeed, were Blue Ice to feature in the 'Green 500 List' announced by The Green500.org in June 2008* it would rank as the most energy efficient supercomputer in Wales.
This ground-breaking facility has been made possible thanks to an increasingly effective collaboration between computer giant IBM and Swansea University’s Institute of Innovation (IN2). Embracing a spirit of Open Innovation, IN2 endeavours to be global, collaborative and multi-disciplinary. It is bringing high-value jobs and new knowledge into the region, as well as forging the way for industry clusters.
One recent success for IN2 is the Institute of Life Science (ILS), a £52 million collaboration between Swansea University’s School of Medicine, IBM and the Welsh Assembly Government, which also enjoys a dedicated IBM-built supercomputer, Blue C. The Mike Barnsley Centre for Climate Change and Blue Ice now join that roll-call of success.
The establishment of the new Centre will bring huge benefit to Technium Pembrokeshire and the region. The Centre is open for business to all tenants at Technium Pembrokeshire and welcomes collaboration with individuals and organisations in the sector who seek to benefit from high performance computing. For more information contact Professor Tavi Murray at email@example.com.
For more information on Green500.org see http://www.green500.org/lists/2008/06/green500.php