Story image

First UK universities to deploy IBM POWER9 servers reap benefits

06 Mar 18

Two Universities have become the first UK academic organisations to deploy IBM’s POWER9 system.

Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and Newcastle University are now benefiting from the system for modern high-performance computing (HPC), analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) workloads.

The Universities recently received delivery of the systems and they will be integrated by OCF into existing HPC infrastructures.

According to QMUL professor Sean Gong, QMUL needs the latest technology in order to enable its researchers to excel in areas where they are using deep learning to solve some of today’s toughest scientific challenges.

The University became one of the first organisations to purchase two IBM Accelerated Compute Servers (AC922) powered by POWER9 CPUs, Volta GPUs and NVLink 2.0 interconnects.

“QMUL is a world-leader in deep learning research in post-event video forensics and analysis. Deep learning by large-scale convolutional neural networks – a category of neural networks that has been proven effective in areas such as image recognition and classification – has radically changed research into computer vision in recent years,” says Gong.

“Given our previous test trials on IBM Minsky POWER8 servers, we expect to see significant benefit from the new POWER9 servers for deep learning on big video data.”

Newcastle University co-director of the joint quantum centre Carlo Barenghi says researchers within the mathematics, statistics and physics departments were looking to use GPU-accelerated platform for computational projects.

“The major difficulty we face is that our calculations are non-linear, time-dependent and three-dimensional, so solving them is out of reach with pencil and paper, and the numerical computation requires large memory and fast speed - we are humbled from the start,” says Barenghi.

 “We did some investigations and the IBM POWER9 system was the best technology for our work – in trial runs we got a ‘speed up factor’ in the order of 10x magnitude, so the decision was easily made.”

In terms of the technical aspects, the AC922 makes use of IBM’s new POWER9 processor with a multitude of modern connectivity capabilities, which improves data movement by up to 5.6 times over the PCIe Gen 3 ‘buses’ found in x86 servers.

OCF managing director Julian Fielden says IBM Power Systems are unlocking new potential for accelerated computing given they deliver the only architecture enabling NVLink between CPUs and GPUs.

“Modern AI, HPC and Analytics workloads are driving an ever-growing set of data intensive challenges,” says Fielden.

“These challenges can only be met with accelerated infrastructure, such as IBM’s POWER9. In such a highly competitive field as academic research, providing superior HPC services to compute large quantities of data quickly, can help to attract world-class researchers, as well as grants and funding.”

Huawei unveils new cloud region in South Africa
The announcement makes it the world’s first cloud service provider that operates a local data centre to provide cloud services in Africa.
HPE extends cloud-based AI tool InfoSight to servers
HPE asserts it is a big deal as the system can drive down operating costs, plug disruptive performance gaps, and free up time to allow IT staff to innovate.
'Public cloud is not a panacea' - 91% of IT leaders want hybrid
Nutanix research suggests cloud interoperability and app mobility outrank cost and security for primary hybrid cloud benefits.
Altaro introduces WAN-optimised replication for VMs
"WAN-optimised replication allows businesses to continue working in the case of damage to on-premise servers."
DDN part of data mining mission on Mars
DataDirect Networks (DDN) today announced that it will be playing a role in one of NASA’s most critical missions.
Opinion: Data centre management can learn from the Navy
While a nuclear submarine may seem like a completely different beast from a data centre, the similarities in how they should be managed are striking and many.
14 milestones Workday has achieved in 2018
We look into the key achievements of business software vendor Workday this year
HPE building new supercomputer with €38m price tag
It will be installed at the High Performance Computing Center of the University of Stuttgart and will be the world's fastest for industrial production.