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New GW4 Isambard 3 Supercomputer available to Cardiff Researchers

29 June 2023

Isambard HPC

The UK’s GW4 Alliance, which brings together the universities of Bristol, Bath, Cardiff and Exeter, together with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), NVIDIA and Arm, are set to deliver a TOP500-class supercomputer service expected later this year for AI and high performance computing (HPC).

Based on the new NVIDIA Grace CPU Superchip, the new “Isambard 3” service will provide Cardiff University researchers with access to a production system of at least 55,000 cores. With an expanded storage system featuring intelligent tiering for data-intensive workloads e.g., AI model training, it will also include an expanded and upgraded multi architecture comparison system to enable scientifically rigorous performance comparisons and benchmarking across diverse computer architectures.

Following the award of £10 million by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to develop Isambard 3, a new self-contained HPE Performance Optimized Data Center (POD) at the National Composites Centre on the Bristol and Bath Science Park will be installed to host the service. Importantly, the award will also fund essential staff resources across GW4 – including those from within ARCCA – needed to help deliver and support Isambard 3. This will include expertise assisting with service deployment, migrating users from the current Isambard 2 service, as well as supporting both the HPC system itself and its users over the next 4 years. These activities, alongside the continued support of Isambard 2 with its GW4 partners plus the delivery last year of a package of enhanced support, further demonstrate ARCCA’s value to the wider HPC community in Cardiff and further afield.

Installation of Isambard 3 is planned to take place later this year with the system scheduled for use in early 2024. With more than six times the computational performance and energy efficiency of Isambard 2, the upgraded system will enable new research opportunities in a wide range of areas including cutting-edge research in AI and machine learning.

With plans to upgrade the existing Hawk “core” infrastructure well advanced – both the system itself and the hosting infrastructure in Redwood – and with the additional allocated Isambard 3 capabilities, we are confident of providing the necessary resources and support to address the increasing requirements of Cardiff University’s research community.

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