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Midlands-based Supercomputer Unlocks Research Potential

New Midlands-based Supercomputer Unlocks Research Potential For Ensemble Computing

A state-of-the-art high-performance computer (HPC) within the Midlands is the first machine of its kind in the UK set to vastly increase research potential and ambition for academics.

Based at a purpose-built data centre at the University of Warwick, the new HPC system Sulis focuses on enhanced ensemble computing workflows, addressing an unmet need in the research and innovation sector.

Funded by EPSRC and the HPC Midlands+ Consortium, the new facility will lead to more opportunities for ground-breaking research within a range of disciplines, enhance research capabilities and allows academics to deliver more competitive world-class research.

Professor David Quigley from the University of Warwick who led on the multi-million-pound funding bid said: “Computer simulation and modelling is increasingly seen as the third pillar of modern science, alongside theory and experiment.

“Many of our research activities are based on relatively modest-scale simulations that we need to repeat many thousands of times with different inputs. This helps us make predictions based on large samples of data, understand how sensitive our models are to their inputs, and hence quantify the robustness of our predictions.

Sulis allows researchers in the Midlands and beyond to leverage a large-scale facility focussed on exactly these workloads rather than individual very large simulations. By running thousands of simulations concurrently in high-throughput mode, time is dramatically reduced allowing us to increase the scope and ambition of research.”

Researchers from the Midlands Innovation have already produced data samples from the tier 2 facility to better understand the opportunities it presents and have made some exciting discoveries within drug discovery and identifying suitable battery materials for electric vehicles.

Sulis unlocks greater research potential for chemists, material physicists and astronomers. PhD students and early career researchers will also benefit from upskilling and advancing their knowledge of ensemble computing.

Jordan Dorell, a PhD student at the University of Birmingham who will use the new facility said, “Rather than synthesising thousands of possible new battery materials in the lab, which is slow, difficult and expensive, my research project involves predicting thousands of new candidate materials for batteries and testing them first within a computer. Sulis will allow me to increase the number of materials I try and find the best answers quicker.”

Professor Jonathan Hirst, RAEng Chair in Emerging Technologies, University of Nottingham explained that Sulis “will significantly augment our research using machine learning and molecular simulation to make drug discovery more sustainable.”

Dr Dmitry Nerukh, from Mathematics at Aston University leads a research group that performs unique large-scale molecular dynamics simulations of entire viruses at atomistic resolution, which is only possible using state-of-the-art supercomputers like Sulis.

Dr Helen Turner, Director for Midlands Innovation also commented. “The Midlands is at the forefront of sustainable, world-class research thanks to this state-of-the-art high-performance computer (HPC) which will enable ground-breaking research.

“This new infrastructure builds on previous collaborative HPC facilities in the Midlands, improving our researchers access to cutting-edge infrastructure.  Sulis will not only expand the capabilities of researchers within the Midlands Innovation partnership and hopefully lead to new research collaborations between our institutions, but also strengthen the offer we can make to our industrial partners.”

Sulis was provided by high performance computing, storage, cloud and AI integrator, OCF.

For more information about Sulis and how to access the facility visit University of Warwick website