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One of the most powerful single-installation supercomputers in a Scottish university will be switched on at the University of Strathclyde in November. The new £500,000 HPC (high performance computing) facility, provided by Esteem Systems, will dramatically increase the computational capabilities of Strathclyde's Faculty of Engineering and Institute for Complex Systems to tackle the most challenging problems, such as molecular simulations of hydrogen storage in nanoporous materials.

After a competitive procurement process, Esteem won the bid to design and deliver the supercomputer to Strathclyde. Based on Sun Microsystems technology, the HPC facility will enable the University to perform science and engineering modelling to a level of detail that cannot be accessed by physical experiments. The new supercomputer is nearly ten times bigger that the Engineering Faculty’s current HPC system, which means the number of users and their computational capabilities will be able to significantly increase over the next few years.

With 1,088 computing elements (cores) writing to a 100TB high performance disk storage area across a state-of-the art Quad Data Rate Infiniband network, Esteem has designed this high performance computer for a peak performance of almost 13 TeraFlops (thirteen thousand billion operations per second), making it among the most powerful single computers to be housed in any Scottish university.

Esteem will deliver the entire HPC cluster ready to use in just six weeks. 140 Sun servers will be built onsite at Esteem’s head office and testing facility to ensure the system is ready to go when it arrives at Strathclyde. The high performance disk storage area uses Sun’s file system, Lustre, which simplifies mass storage. Lustre is a parallel file system that acts like a highway, instead of a single-track road, to enable university researchers, academic staff and PhD students to access large files simultaneously without disrupting performance.

Project leader Professor Jason Reese, Weir Chair of Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, explains, "The Engineering Faculty has teamed up with the Science Faculty's Institute for Complex Systems to champion leading-edge computational research. This HPC – and a newly-appointed HPC Officer to support its users – will be central to a wide range of research projects, from the simulation of fluids at the nanoscale to the prediction of welding distortion and the aerodynamics of space re-entry vehicles. It is exactly the kind of high-performance research facility we would expect to find in an institution aspiring to be a leading international technological university."

Commenting on the reason for selecting Esteem, Reese says, “The quality of the bid was excellent, including modern high-quality processors, fast data links and good data storage capacity. It was also very good value, and Esteem engaged well with us on matching our requirements to the architecture needed to achieve them.”

Alastair Kitching, chief operating officer at Esteem Systems, comments, “HPC is such an important tool for research and development, and our expertise in helping universities to architect a balanced solution is a hugely satisfying part of Esteem’s infrastructure offering. The supercomputer we are creating for Strathclyde will propel the University to the cutting edge of computational research capabilities, and we look forward to supporting them in their objective to become a leading global research facility.”

About Esteem|]

A specialist managed services provider for IT infrastructures, Esteem Systems designs, implements and manages systems to enable organisations that rely on computing to grow and flourish. Esteem is committed to delivering outstanding customer service and provides services and expertise to manage entire infrastructures; from servers and desktops, to applications, data and networks.

Esteem helps throughout the IT investment lifecycle; from initial strategy development and technology assessment, through to design, procurement and implementation. Partnering with many of the world’s leading IT companies, including Citrix Systems, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, NetApp and VMware, Esteem has developed enviable relationships to offer bespoke solutions for customers to better utilise their IT, improve operational efficiency and reduce operating costs.

In 2009, Esteem Systems has been named as the fastest growing UK IT services company in the Sunday Times Deloitte Buyout Track 100. Esteem has also been recognised by the Sunday Times as one of the Top 100 Best Companies to Work For.

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