Rolls-Royce signs up to supercomputing on-demand from HPC Midlands

Rolls-Royce is the first company to sign up to a supercomputing brokerage scheme, giving it access to £60m worth of high-performance computing

Aircraft engine maker Rolls-Royce has signed a high-performance computing (HPC) contract to give it access to the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s (EPSRC) HPC Midlands centre.

At the heart of HPC Midlands is a 3,008 core supercomputing cluster called Hera, designed by Bull Information Services, which is capable of achieving performance of 48 teraflops.

Rolls-Royce's HPC lead, Yoon Ho, said: "For many years now we have worked with universities and colleges across the UK and internationally, and we partner with a number of institutions on research and development through our University Technology Centres. This agreement was a natural next step to explore sharing facilities more broadly. 

"We have been impressed by the professional approach that Jisc [Joint Information Systems Committee] and HPC Midlands have taken to this project, in particular around our tough information security and export control requirements, and we see a very bright future for our collaboration."

The agreement also involves Rolls-Royce connecting to Janet, the high-speed network for UK education and research. Through Jisc’s Janet Reach scheme for industrial connectivity, a network circuit operating at 10Gbps will be installed by the committee, so that it is able to fully exploit the HPC centre.

"It has been a pleasure to work with Jisc to develop what we hope will become a standardised approach for providing industry access to supercomputing facilities," said HPC Midlands director Steven Kenny. 

"In years to come we hope that it becomes accepted practice for research and industry to share these kinds of high-tech facilities and expertise."

HPC Midlands has also provided the supercomputing to run simulations for Airbus on the life of composite materials that are used in the construction of new airliners.

Earlier in 2015, Jisc began offering a shared service to universities and academic institutes to help them free up valuable floor space and support HPC research programmes.

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