HPCC System


A walkthrough in the HPC Server Room, designed and built by Annor Ltd, showing optimised trunking and cluster equipment

The Departments have a major investment in High-Performance Clustered (HPC) computer systems providing a powerful and accessible resource for data-intensive and computing-intensive tasks. The two linked clusters are jointly owned by Mathematics Computing and Technology, Physics and Astronomy in the Science Faculty and the Department of Design, Development Environment and Materials. The systems also support projects in Chemistry, Earth Sciences and The Planetary and Space Sciences Research Institute.

The original initiative for developing the cluster system came from a SRIF grant which was bid for under the auspices of the Department of Statistics. Faculty Users are drawn from the Computing and Communications Department, Applied Maths, Engineering and Statistics.

In addition to the Clustered system, a range of specialised computing services are maintained and developed based around specific research needs. Services available also include a VMCenter which provides virtual machines using VMWare for specific applications and a Storage Area Network and a Hierarchical Storage environment.

IBM Domino Workflow servers are provided for various academic and administrative activities and content management for web-presented information (including this 'mct-research' website).

The Research computer systems are developed and managed jointly by Geoff Bradshaw (Physics & Astronomy) and Allan Thrower (Maths, Computing and Technology).

Recent news of the cluster includes the fact that it produced significant results very quickly in a major Combinatorial analysis relating to Steiner Triple Systems of order 15.

Cluster Evolution:

Both clusters have evolved from a ever-increasing need for greater processing power. This need stems from current and future planned research being conducted by Maths & Computing, the Department of Design and Innovation and Physics & Astronomy. The requirement has led the departments to integrate their individual clusters providing an essential and very powerful tool for various fields of research. Computations that formerly took several months to complete can be carried out in less than a day in some cases using the power of the IMPACT cluster.

The Cluster and ancillary equipment is located in a purpose-built area in a new building on the Open University campus.