Proposal to Extend the Research Data Facility at the University of Edinburgh

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Physics and Astronomy


This proposal aims to construct a highly energy-efficient extension to the University of Edinburgh's Advanced Computing Facility (ACF) to house the next generation High Performance Computer (HPC), ARCHER. The ACF, which is situated on a science park to the south of the city of Edinburgh, was completely refurbished in 2004 to house all present and planned HPC systems operated by the University. From 2007 it has been the home for the HECToR service and currently we are installing the DiRAC BlueGene/Q there. It is a free-standing non-public-access building offering excellent security. The specification, design and implementation of the new facility are being carried out by the same University/private enterprise partnership who undertook the original refurbishment, the extension and upgrades required for HECToR in 2007, and the upgrade for BlueGene/Q in 2011. The extension will add 500 square metres of floor space and 3MW of electrical power capacity, achieving power usage effectiveness (power used by the centre/power used by ARCHER) less than 1.1, the current state-of-the-art. The project is proceeding on a timetable to complete the building extension, and mechanical and electrical installations, by March 2013, so that the first phase of ARCHER can be installed and service begun as soon as the hardware procurement is completed and the computer ready.

Planned Impact

This project will construct a highly energy-efficient and fully equipped building extension to house world-leading HPC systems. The direct beneficiaries will be Crown House Technology Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Laing O'Rourke, who will gain additional expertise in designing and building bespoke power and cooling infrastructure for these demanding systems that achieve state-of-the-art levels of power usage efficiency, and the UK academic community which will maintain its internationally competitive position in designing and operating such facilities. The HPC systems themselves will underpin research across many academic dsiciplines that is widely recognised to play a vital role in addressing major environmental, societal and economic grand challenges, such as climate change and disaster management, healthcare for the ageing population, personalised medicine, faster and cheaper industrial design, and the development of new materials. Datacentre infrastructure and power costs are an integral part of the total cost of providing HPC capability, which studies show generates £10 of net GVA after two years, and £25 after five, for every £1 spent.


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Description Traditionally, high performance computing has been viewed as a challenge to generate enough simulations. In 2013 we proposed a radical change to change the RCUK strategy to become data-centric. The UKRDF is the instantiation of that new vision.
Exploitation Route The UKRDF infrastructure and the services ruuning on it are fed into European and international projects designed to establish best practice in a rapidly developing area.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Chemicals,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Energy,Environment

Description The first phase of the UKRDF facility has been installed, is operating and is providing data stroage services to a wide range of researchers around the UK.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Chemicals,Construction,Energy,Environment
Impact Types Policy & public services