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Imperial College London teams up with Intel and Lenovo for HPC push

Imperial College London has joined forces with Lenovo and Intel to bolster its HPC capabilities for the benefit of its research teams

Imperial College London is on course to become one of the UK’s largest Tier 3 High-Performance Computing (HPC) universities on the back of a joint collaboration it’s embarking on with Lenovo and Intel.

The university is joining forces with the two tech giants for a multi-year project geared towards providing Imperial with greater access to sustainable HPC capabilities, as well as supporting its efforts to grow a gender-balanced next-generation workforce of individuals with skills in HPC and artificial intelligence (AI).

“Nurturing the next generation of HPC and AI scientists is not only the responsibility of academic institutions but also the tech industry,” said Adam Roe, HPC technical director for EMEA at Intel. “Intel is at the forefront of emerging technologies, and through this collaboration will sponsor PhD students through the UKRI iCase program, provide remote access into the Intel DevCloud and Software Development Platforms (SDPs), and support Imperial to develop its HPC platforms while founding itself as an Intel HPC code optimisation specialist and oneAPI Centre of Excellence.”

The collaboration will also ensure Imperial has the capacity to carry out parallel computer workloads for all its faculties, spanning engineering, natural sciences, medicine and business, so that researchers working in all these fields can accelerate the pace of their investigations.  

Imperial’s enhanced HPC capabilities will form part of its central Research Computing Service (RCS) and, once complete, make the university one of the largest Tier 3 HPC facilities in the UK.

For context, a Tier 3 HPC facility is typically a supercomputer based at a university that’s at the disposal of its research teams to use.

“RCS provides advanced computing resources to any researcher at Imperial College London through its scheduled and interactive HPC platforms, large-scale data storage and data transfer capabilities, and research software engineering consultancy and communities,” the organisations said, in a joint statement.

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The university also confirmed the RCS will rely on Lenovo Neptune’s water cooling system for temperature regulation purposes and sustainability reasons.

“Imperial College, Lenovo and Intel all share an unwavering commitment and innovative eagerness to sustainability,” the organisations said, in a joint statement. “The RCS supercomputer is now able to run with both reduced power and carbon emissions, while providing researchers with the HPC power to create sustainable solutions to benefit the wider society, having a positive long-term impact on humanity.”

Professor Mary Ryan, vice-provost of research and enterprise at Imperial, said the collaboration will elevate the college’s standing in the research community.

“This investment strengthens our position at the forefront of research, innovation and training, with increased capabilities and better services, while also reducing our future carbon footprint,” she said.

Scott Tease, vice-president and general manager of HPC and AI at Lenovo, said Imperial had two key requirements when it first started looking into the possibility of building out its supercomputing capabilities.

“Like many in the HPC community, Imperial College London faced two competing mandates for their new supercomputer – the need to deliver more computational power to their researchers across multiple disciplines to drive a faster time to answers, and the requirement to reduce the environmental impact of the system,” he said.

“By utilising Neptune systems with Intel’s High Bandwidth memory, Imperial College will provide their researchers with phenomenal compute capabilities, while actually reducing the power consumed to deliver them.”

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