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HPC Wales and ARCCA

HPC Wales logo.

High Performance Computing (HPC) Wales is an innovative collaboration which gives businesses and researchers access to world-class, secure and easy to use high performance computing (HPC) technology.

In partnership with Welsh universities, Government and Fujitsu, HPC Wales offers the supercomputing power, high level skills training and customised support necessary to help address global challenges, accelerate scientific breakthroughs and answer long-standing questions.  

HPC Wales consists of:

  • A world-class HPC capacity
    A pan-Wales distributed network of computer clusters, with expert advice and support to make these resources more accessible to a wider user base. Our distributed infrastructure is connected by secure high-speed links to satellite spokes in Welsh universities and business and research centres.
  • HPC Institute
    By facilitating strategic partnerships between the academic and private sectors, HPC Wales will help accelerate research and development projects.
  • HPC Skills Academy
    HPC Wales will deliver technical courses and workshops to enhance HPC skills and capability across Wales.

Funding for HPC Wales comes from a variety of sources, with the bulk (£19m) coming from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), delivered via the European Social Fund (ESF), and the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO). Next is £10m from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), with £5m from the Welsh Assembly government. Institutions collaborating on the project will provide £4m, and £2m is expected to come from the private sector and from research income. The HPC Wales scheme was initially announced in 2009 by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, with a budget of £44m. Its aims then were broadly the same as they are now: (i) job creation, and (ii) the strengthening of IT for research and development projects.

HPC Wales is a unique project in its scale, nature and ambition, providing access to HPC facilities and specialist knowledge for universities, researchers and businesses across Wales. The project has three strands. The first covers the installation of HPC equipment, infrastructure and distribution networks across Wales. The second will set up a training academy focused on HPC skills, while the third is dedicated to creating an institute that will support businesses and universities in their research and commercial projects. HPC Wales will meet the needs of priority sectors identified by the Welsh Assembly, and will be a catalyst to speed innovation in Digital, Low Carbon, Health and Biosciences, Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing, and in the Creative Industries. The initiative will also serve to strengthen the wider cross cutting advanced ICT theme.

Demand for HPC Wales has been established from a comprehensive survey of researchers in the HEI sector, and the innovation projects they are working on with businesses and other organisations. HPC Wales will enhance these projects and speed up the process of research and innovation into the market.

A number of Welsh academic institutions are involved in the project, including Aberystwyth, Bangor and Glamorgan Universities and University of Wales Alliance Universities.

The hubs at Cardiff and Swansea will link to several 'Tier 1' sites at these institutions, which will in turn link to a number of smaller, 'Tier 2' sites. The main production capabilities will be at the hubs. HPC Wales is not a monolithic system at a single site, but a distributed solution to help engage all of Welsh higher education institutions.

There will be a requirement for a minimum connection speed of 100Mbps between Tier 1 and Tier 2 sites, at least 1Gbps between Tier 1 sites and the Hubs, and around a 10Gbps link between Cardiff and Swansea. HPC Wales will link into the UK government-funded Joint Academic Network (JANET). If a given application requires a larger facility, then it will look to exploit national facilities in the UK.

After an extensive, year-long procurement process, HPC Wales selected Fujitsu to deliver a 300+ Teraflop high performance distributed facility that will be deployed at a number of sites across Wales. Fujitsu will, over the next four years, in partnership with HPC Wales, set up and maintain the computing infrastructure for the project, as well as provide application and computing expertise.

ERDF logo.

The project is expected to lead to the creation of 400 new jobs in several industry sectors.

ARCCA has played a key role in the development of the HPC Wales project, providing expertise, technical, and project management advice across all aspects of the project: from helping to develop the Business Case that secured the funding, through providing leadership in many aspects of the procurement process, to more recently in driving much of the progression to operational status. The Cardiff Hub Infrastructure is located alongside the current ARCCA supercomputer, Merlin, in the ARCCA Data Centre, having taken delivery of the first phase of the HPC equipment.

Read more about HPC Wales on the project website.

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