New supercomputer to be installed at £30m Daresbury scientific site

Noam Rosen and Kate Royse

A new supercomputer is to be installed at the Daresbury-based Hartree Centre, as part of a £210m programme.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has signed an agreement with IT giant Lenovo for the installation of the powerful new supercomputer at the STFC Hartree Centre.

Ten times more powerful than its predecessor, but using less electricity thanks to Lenovo’s direct water cooling, the new supercomputer will power AI research for UK industry.

The investment is part of the Hartree Centre’s £210m Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation (HNCDI) programme, which provides UK industry access to state-of-the-art digital technologies and expertise and is complementary to investments in the wider AI Research Resource (AIRR).

It will be installed later this year at its new £30m supercomputing centre, currently under construction.

The Lenovo ThinkSystem Neptune will perform more than 44 quadrillion floating point operations (calculations) per second.

To put this into context, if you were to carry out one calculation per second, it would take nearly 1,400 million years to reach this number.

The new GPU-based system (graphics processing unit) is perfect for AI workloads, and marks a significant leap for the Hartree Centre’s capabilities, with 10 times the processing power of its current system, Scafell Pike. Furthermore, it will be more power-efficient, taking up less space and using less electricity per unit of performance.

The Hartree Centre is the UK’s only supercomputing centre dedicated to industry engagement. This capability will drive forward innovation in industry use cases and applications.

The new supercomputer will be strategically positioned to contribute to discovery-led industrial research, focusing on solutions to global challenges in areas such as: Weather and climate modelling; cleaner energy initiatives; drug discovery; health technologies; new materials; automotive advancements; and legal applications.

This includes the Hartree Centre’s continued collaboration with the UK Atomic Energy Authority, which is using the centre to research new reactors for clean nuclear fusion energy.

Kate Royse, Director, STFC Hartree Centre, said: “We are very excited to be working with Lenovo on our next generation of supercomputer at the Hartree Centre. Our mission is to equip UK industry with the knowledge, skills and compute needed to fully unlock the potential of advanced digital technologies. With our new supercomputer we will be able to support UK industry in the use of big data and AI technologies to enable UK businesses to take a leading role internationally on the responsible adoption and exploitation of AI technology.”

Noam Rosen, EMEA Director HPC/AI, Lenovo, said: “”Our collaboration is not just about delivering a state-of-the-art supercomputer, it’s about building a versatile, robust, and powerful system tailored to meet the Centre’s diverse and evolving needs. From advanced modeling and simulation in various scientific disciplines to pioneering work in AI and machine learning, this new power-efficient supercomputer will be a cornerstone for innovation, pushing the boundaries of big data and AI technologies to bolster the UK industry’s global leadership in responsible and ethical technology adoption.”