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£3.2m funding for Midlands-based high performance computing centre

The Midlands Innovation group of universities and Queen Mary University of London have been awarded £3.2million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to establish HPC Midlands Plus – a centre of excellence in high performance computing (HPC).

High performance computing is used to undertake complex simulations, to find solutions for challenging problems and to process vast quantities of data. It has the potential to act as a catalyst for breakthroughs across a wide range of sectors – from engineering, manufacturing and transport to finance, healthcare and energy.

HPC Midlands Plus, which will be based at Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park, will harness the seven universities’ collective expertise in high performance computing to drive forward research and innovation in this growing area.

It will feature a 14,336 core supercomputer with 65 TB RAM, high-speed Infiniband interconnect and a 1 PB file store supplied by ClusterVision and Huawei. It will also contain a large memory Power8 component for massive data processing with a dedicated high speed file store.

HPC Midlands Plus will provide technical support, training and expertise over a range of disciplines. Research software engineers will be employed at each of the partner universities to help users scale their codes to the new system and train new users.

The Centre will be used by universities, research organisations and businesses around the country, who will be able to maximise research and innovation opportunities faster and cheaper than ever before.

Professor Steven Kenny, Director of HPC Midlands Plus, said: “High performance computing technology pervades our everyday lives. For instance it is used in the design of aircraft engines and cars, the exploration of new materials for energy generation and storage, and the delivery of personalised healthcare.

“The universities involved in the consortium have so far used high performance computing to address a number of global challenges. The establishment of HPC Midlands Plus will enable us to combine our power to explore how high performance computing can impact even more sectors and emerging areas such as quantum technologies.”

HPC Midlands Plus is due to be officially launched in the spring of this year.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 17/17

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Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, putting it among the best universities in the world, and was named the best in the country for its student experience in the 2016 THE Student Experience Survey. Loughborough was ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2017 and 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2017 and was also named Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

In September 2015 the University opened an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.

Midlands Innovation is a world-class research and innovation partnership, combining the collective excellence of six leading universities in the heart of the UK – Aston, Birmingham, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick. It unites the power of university research with the unique strengths of Midlands industry to drive cutting-edge research, innovation and skills development.

HPC Midlands Plus is a ‘Tier 2’ centre of excellence. The UK’s HPC ecosystem comprises Tier 0 and 1 (national-level) facilities, Tier 2 (regional) facilities and Tier 3 (local university) facilities.

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the main funding agency for engineering and physical sciences research. Its vision is for the UK to be the best place in the world to Research, Discover and Innovate. By investing £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, it is building the knowledge and skills base needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation. Its portfolio covers a vast range of fields from healthcare technologies to structural engineering, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry. The research it funds has impact across all sectors. It provides a platform for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. It works collectively with its partners and other Research Councils on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK. 

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