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Cambridge-Cranfield High Performance Computing Facility (CCHPCF)

This is historical information presented for interest. Please note the CCHPCF ceased to exist in 2006.

The CCHPCF, formerly the HPCF, began in the mid 90's by the efforts of a consortium of scientists from different departments who found themselves unable to obtain sufficient computing resources either locally or nationally. The consortium was successful in obtaining financial support from the University, the Newton Trust and grant applications including bids to the Joint Research Equipment Initiative (JREI). The CCHPCF is not a computing service but is a facility that is maintained by users for users to supply flexible high performance computing resources to researchers in the University and their teams that are necessary to their work. The CCHPCF is a facility which is managed by the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics on behalf of the University and reports to the Committee for the School of Physical Sciences.

The CCHPCF was awarded money under the first round of the Science Research Investment Fund (SRIF) initiative by the University of Cambridge and Cranfield University to tender for a new supercomputer, and acquired a SunFire Galaxy-class supercomputer which has been available to users since the end of 2002. This extremely powerful computer has about 1000 processors and has benchmark speed of 1.4 Teraflops (a peak of over 2 Teraflops), and is equipped with a state-of-the-art SunFire Link interprocessor connector. The major property of this interconnect is that it will enable very large jobs to be scaled up in size with little or no degradation in performance. In addition, our SunFire has 3-4 Gbytes RAM per processor giving a massive overall total of 2880 Gbytes. This allows problems that are otherwise memory bound to fit into the machine with ease. Sun Microsystems are deeply involved in the use of their system in the CCHPCF and are keen to form partnerships with users to mutual benefit of research and development.

There is a charging policy because although the computer was bought by SRIF funds the day-to-day running costs must be covered by users from grant income. It is, however, the policy of the CCHPCF that no-one who wishes to use the machine will be unable to do so on financial grounds. Rather we encourage users to ask for money on their grant applications for computing resources. Researchers have been very successful in raising money in this way in the past as long as the proper case was made. Those that do contribute to the CCHPCF will be given priority access ahead of those who have not yet done so. However, it is paramount that the computer is run at maximum capacity at all times and it is our policy that all users will have access at a level that achieves this aim. The cost at present is estimated at 14p per processor per hour which is extremely good value.