Putting the Research First

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.

“Coming into the Research Computing team as a graduate of Queen’s I knew first-hand what the user experience is like,” says James McGroarty, RSE for NI-HPC; “Now that we are able to bring in collaborative research it’s important we grow our user base intelligently. By having solution and change management services provided by Alces Flight the RSE team can focus on the users, analyse and improve their workflows, and easily plan future changes to help our solution to continuously meet our researchers’ requirements.”

The team at Alces provide a managed HPC cluster service for the Kelvin cluster, leveraging a standardised Alces Flight environment to help reduce day-to-day management costs and manage change effectively. By centralising all system operations in the Alces Flight Center tool, customers can centralise and develop HPC knowledge for the Research Computing and RSE teams. “We worked with Queen’s and Ulster to integrate this latest hardware upgrade into the existing HPC service successfully adopted at the University,” explains Wil Mayers, Technical Consultant for Alces Flight; “Our goal is to transparently bring new capabilities and capacity online without major upheaval, minimising the impact to users and providing strong foundations to build on. The Research Computing and RSE teams have the power to develop and optimise new workflows, safe in the knowledge that their infrastructure is being taken care of. Now these teams can focus on adding value to the users and researcher communities that matter most to the NI-HPC initiative.”

Resources around the NI-HPC Tier 2 HPC Facility:

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