See what the Flight Crew got up to during this online event

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Virtual Supercomputing may have come to an end but thanks to this event being held entirely online the content will be running live for the next six months! Here’s a quick run-down (with links!) of what the crew got up to this time:

First-time nomination for the HPCwire Reader’s Choice Awards

We were proud to secure a first-time nomination with the University of Liverpool and AWS for work done in Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence. We might not have taken home the prize this time but the research done to achieve this recognition in progressing COVID-19 diagnosis means everyone wins.

We made the HPC State of Practice — TWICE.


Supercomputing (SC’20) has gone virtual — and the move have resulted in record attendance for Alces Flight projects.

Yesterday’s State of Practice talks, part of the Supercomputing (SC’20) Technical Program, were to date the highest attended Alces Flight presentations for a global supercomputing conference.

Over 550+ people from around the world gathered to hear talks presented by the University of Liverpool and CompBioMed Centre of Excellence as they went through their respective presentations on AI imagining analysis for COVID-19 and training in biomedical sciences.

Fresh off their nomination for the HPCwire Reader’s Choice Award, the University of Liverpool kicked-off the Alces presentation run — showcasing the power of their hybrid HPC solution design in the race to diagnose COVID-19. Dr. Yalin Zheng and lead researchers Joshua Bridge and Yanda Meng discussed the techniques used in analysing and modelling data from multiple sources — while the Advanced Research Computing (ARC) team at Liverpool, Alces Flight, and AWS walked attendees through how the cluster environment — Cloud Barkla — was architected and run. …


This year the Alces Flight team is participating in not one, but two HPC State of the Practice presentations covering hybrid and cloud HPC.

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The Flight Crew is back — albeit virtually — to participate once again in the annual Supercomputing (SC’20) convention. This conference, like so many other events, has moved online… but… this move is allowing global participation and a chance for more voices to be heard in the HPC community… so it’s even better.

We are excited to announce that two of our projects were selected for HPC State of Practice talks, both taking place on November 17th. …


The staff at Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University, through their EPSRC grant, are growing their solution and Research Software Engineering (RSE) portfolio intelligently in order to meet the changing needs of their new user base.

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Our students and researchers drive our technological advancement both here at Queen’s and at Ulster,” explains Vaughan Purnell, Research Computing Manager, of Queen’s University Belfast. “When we came together to plan how we would tackle these new fields, we knew we would need the best platform for our research and an end user model built on RSE engagement. Our aim is to educate users today on the systems available, while keeping an eye to the user and system requirements of tomorrow — all without sacrificing quality or time-to-science.”

The NI-HPC ‘Kelvin2’ cluster is built through partnership with Dell EMC, ROC Technologies, and Alces Flight, features capabilities including 128-core AMD EPYC2 and Intel AVX512 equipped compute nodes, Nvidia V100 GPUs, a Mellanox 100Gb Infiniband low-latency interconnect and more than 6PB of storage capacity organised into different feature tiers. With a focus on emerging HPC fields requiring increased RSE end-user engagement, collaborating on managing the environment was key to ensure project success. …


Alces Flight provided a cloud High Performance Computing (HPC) environment built on Microsoft Azure that harnessed the newly available AMD EPYC2 (Rome) Series of Processors

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With the Alces Flight team going first in the student cluster competition, and going in on public cloud, they chose to go epic… quite literally.

“As this was CIUK’s first ever cluster challenge we really wanted to give the students something special to launch for their first challenge, which is why we choose to construct the cluster environment on Microsoft Azure with the latest AMD EPYC2 (Rome) series of processors,” said Cristin Merritt, Program Manager for Cloud HPC at Alces Flight. “For us, pulling together this cluster environment was almost entirely automated. In fact, it’s in this ephemeral project space that cloud really shines for HPC in terms of both cost and time to science. We are excited that the students could have access to technology that is shaping the future of all HPC builds right at the start of this event. …


This first time virtual event will have students competing across different platforms in a quest to win sponsorship to the ISC HPC Student Cluster Competition in 2021.

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The team at Alces Flight will be providing student cluster teams access to HPC on the cloud during CIUK’s first ever Cluster Competition. Designed to run from mid-October, and culminating at CIUK 2020 Online, students will engage in a series of tasks covering both hardware and software that will increase in difficulty as the finish line nears. The Alces Flight team will open the event by launching identical cloud HPC clusters for each team tailored specifically to meet the requirements set out by CIUK.

“We’ve been building ephemeral and federated cloud HPC environments for years so it makes perfect sense for us to share this capability with students hoping to pursue HPC as their future career,” said Cristin Merritt, Program Manager for Cloud HPC at Alces Flight,“As the only public cloud build in the competition we hope to set a high standard and show how well this platform works. We are honoured to be participating alongside some of the best providers in hardware and software and can’t wait to get the students on board.” …


The nomination highlights the work by the Department of Eye & Vision Science and Advanced Research Computing (ARC) teams on building up their cloud High Performance Computing (HPC) service for COVID-19 research.

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The team at Alces Flight are pleased to announce that the University of Liverpool has been nominated for the HPCwire Readers’ Choice Award for Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence. The Department of Eye & Vision Science and the ARC team have been working with our HPC specialists and the team at Amazon Web Services (AWS) to target diagnosis models for COVID-19. This project work, built on the ARC Cloud HPC Barkla service, has been utilising the power of quad Nvidia v100 GPUs to increase the training speed of their 2D X-ray and 3D CT scan diagnosis models.

“It’s a great honour to be working with the University of Liverpool researchers and our partners at AWS to turn the diagnosis models from concept into reality,” said Cristin Merritt, Program Manager for Cloud HPC at Alces Flight. “By being able to utilise the services already established for the University of Liverpool’s Barkla and Cloud Barkla systems created through the Alces Flight Center management platform we were able to build and optimise the system for the researchers to quickly scale and test their modelling capability. The security capabilities for the protection of health data within the UK London region on AWS, alongside the quad Nvidia v100 GPU availability, meant that the team’s time to science was near instantaneous. The speed the platform offered even allowed us the opportunity to build out two additional model runs during the time the AWS research grant was available. We’re looking forward to the publications that Dr. Yalin Zheng and his lead researchers, Joshua Bridge and Yanda Meng, are able to produce thanks to this work.” …


Our ‘Business as Unusual’ series has a lot of research to thank before we kick-off in mid-September.

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As we prepare to launch our Business as Unusual series this month it’s important we take a few minutes to look back on some of the work we’ve done to get this far. We’ve been regularly submitting research to the HPC Community since ISC’17 and thanks to feedback and mentorship from incredible programs such as Women in HPC we’ve only grown in our abilities. So while we prepare to launch our work take a look at what we’ve presented before:

P.S. — Loads of links to the research can be found below, so why not see what we’ve learned in detail?


It feels like it’s been all change in everything. High Performance Computing is no different — but change doesn’t have to be bad.

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Much like everyone else in the world, the way we started 2020 and the way things turned out has proven to be entirely unexpected. The challenges that came our way have frequently turned, surprisingly, into opportunities — something that we weren’t so sure was going to be the case as we felt the shock of the pandemic hit the HPC market.

We’ve chosen to lean in to the changes that have come our way, learning how to take our knowledge and re-apply it. We’ve emerged with insights that we are keen to share with the community. What we’ve learned applies across a diverse range of HPC themes: system sustainability, skill development, embracing new tech when budgets are being heavily monitored; all of these things have been impacted as the rule book of how we normally engage with HPC has been ripped up. …


From cloud acceptance to open-source to closing the skills gap, this is the Alces Flight 2019 Year in Review.

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What a 2019 it has been for the Alces Flight Crew. We spent nearly the whole of the year engaged across a wide spectrum of community, client, and collaboration — looking at everything from how cloud is taking hold in HPC all the way up to how to handle the rapid need for more skills in our field. What surprised us the most is how excited and willing the HPC community is to take on new ideas and how our little cloud project from 2016 is now literally moving clusters. …

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Alces Flight

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