Lead Research Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Department Name: Electronics Electrical Eng and Comp Sci


The proposed aims are to establish a £5M Kelvin-2 HPC centre involving Queen's University Belfast and Ulster University for which £2.1M is being sought from EPSRC. It will have significant impact for science, by expanding the use of HPC to new pools of talent and new areas of investigation; for Northern Ireland, by building on the strong collaboration between Ulster and Queen's already established through two major city deal initiatives, and their approach to enterprise with regional investment agencies and commercial enterprises; and a strong foundation for HPC within the UK, building further capacity and interactions with critical stakeholders and linking to non-commercial stake-holders to address societal challenges.
The platform will offer 8000 AMD-based CPU cores and 32 GPU nodes with a high performance 2 Petabyte of scratch storage interconnected via a high-speed network. Different to other sites, it employs Dell-based technology which offers impressive performance with low running costs. The inclusion of GPU will support AI-based research reflecting the institutions' joint strength, recently ranked as 6th in the UK in terms of research power in the a recent government report produced by the Alan Turing Institute. Queen's are subsidising the cost by £400k.
Kelvin-2 is focused on introducing new aspects of HPC modelling for neurotechnology and computational neuroscience, advanced chemistry, innovative drug delivery, precision medicine, metabolomics and hydrogen safety, many of which fit with UKRI's strategic plans in healthcare and new energy. Six ambitious research exemplar projects that are directly associated with strategically important research centres in both institutions, are proposed. These will account for 28M and 570M wall-clock hours of CPU and GPU respectively which will constitute 40% of the total Kelvin-2 resource. 35% of the processing time will be dedicated to supporting general users for the national Tier-2 service, with the remaining resource allocation for new projects. By a programme of communication, this aim is to highlight the potential of HPC to the specific communities in the UK.
The facility will be managed by a director with strong commercial sector experience and two principal applicants with excellent track record in multidisciplinary research and commercialization. Two dedicated research software engineers will be employed to support the research and engagement with the community. The team will be supported by a team of experts from each domain, staff with considerable HPC expertise and Prof. Simon McIntosh-Smith, a UK academic with considerable computational science experience from running an existing EPSRC HPC Tier-2 site, and Professor Newton Howard, Professor of Neurocomputation, Neurosurgery and Mathematics at the University of Oxford where he directs the Computational Neuroscience Laboratory. A Resource Allocation Panel will be established to review and allocate the resources, meeting on a quarterly basis.
A £3M resource will be provided by the universities to support Kelvin-2 in the form of management, network/operational staff, new hardware and data centre. We will aim to expand our international links specifically with the 13k-node/63TiB platform at ICHEC and HPC facilities/expertise at Virginia Tech. and Lawrence Livermore National Lab and increase our presence at the main HPC conferences, e.g. Supercomputing. The Tier-2 Computing infrastructure is central to two separate, major city deals in Northern Ireland focused on economic competitiveness, innovative projects and job creation targeted at health/life sciences and agri-food. These are due to start in 2021 and will provide a guaranteed refresh cycle of Kelvin-2 in the 2023/25 period, thus minimising any subsequent capital requests to EPSRC. Broad engagement will be ensured from the universities' strong track record in engagement with industry and spin-outs.

Planned Impact

The creation of Kelvin-2 will have an impact in a number of areas:
Economic: There are a significant number of companies interested in employing HPC as we see data rates grow. From a UK perspective, we focus to drive more innovative, HPC-driven research in neuroscience, food security, medicine, pharmacy, chemistry and safety. The medical aspects feed directly into the Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) initiative in which Queen's is heavily involved. We will initially engage with multinationals, e.g. Allstate, PWC, BT, national companies with a strong international base such as Almac, Randox as well as a range of local SMEs. All recognize the importance of having a regional HPC-based hub as it provides better research links to both universities enhancing existing collaborations and acts to strengthen the economic development potential of Northern Ireland as it is becoming increasingly recognised as economically strong for finance, cybersecurity, health. The engagement with Catalyst Inc. will help with the engagement with SMEs.
Knowledge: The creation of this additional Tier-2 HPC facility will act to increase the amount of world-class research activity in food security, neuroscience, neurotechnology and medicine and potentially in the arts and humanities disciplines. This will act to increase the presence of computational science and increase UK presence at major international conferences such as Supercomputing. However, by targeting the range of application domains, there will be an expectation that the work will be presented in major conferences for food, neuroscience and medicine science and associated key journals. On a local level, this will act to increase the research presence for both universities and represent a strong justification of both universities' investment in these core areas. The availability of a regional resource and more importantly, the local knowledge and collective expertise developed form using the technology, will act to encourage an active HPC community, allowing greater exploration of the technology to a wider range of alternative research areas and more effective engagement with UK and Northern Ireland industry.
People: in addition to the engagement of academics from a wider range of the traditional areas where HPC has been employed, we expect to train over 400 people including up to 100 PhD students, over the next 4 years in the use of HPC technology. Such research students will come from engineering and physical sciences, medicines and life sciences schools across both universities, engaged with the targeted research activities highlighted in the proposal. Scores of PDRAs and other early-stage researchers (such as research fellows) will also be trained in facility use and benefit from the cutting edge research exemplars being run on the system. This will be communicated widely to the staff via regular Kelvin-2 seminars and updates.
Societal: the research activities that will utilise Kelvin-2 touch many areas where the existence of the facility will have direct societal implications. As just one example, the potential offered by heterogeneous catalysis advances could have implications for transforming catalytic processes which is estimated to indirectly contribute to a quarter of global GDP. The impact of improvements will also be developed in "public understanding of science" in a programme coordinated through our Research and Enterprise Offices which encourages academics to highlight the impact of their research to the public. As part of the innovation, plans are to offer up 100,000 hours of CPU time on Kelvin-2 to Northern Ireland schools patriating in the NI Science Festival and the annual Young Scientist of the Year competitions. This allocation (<0.1% of capacity) will be promoted via Ulster and Queen's existing engagement channels.


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