Cirrus transformed into Tier-2 system

Author: Andy Turner
Posted: 19 Jun 2017 | 15:35

EPCC has received £2.4m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as part its £20m investment in six new Tier-2 HPC centres.

EPCC has used this grant to extend Cirrus, its SGI ICE XA system, transforming it into a major multi-core HPC system with 10,080 state-of-the-art Intel Broadwell cores, and increasing its storage to 2.4PB. 2PB of this storage is a new Tier 2 Research Data Facility built around a DDN WOS object store.

Increasing HPC capability and uptake

The new Tier-2 centres provide a key part of the UK HPC ecosystem, bridging the gap from Tier-3 (institutional HPC systems) up to Tier-1 (national HPC systems, such as ARCHER which is also hosted and managed by EPCC).

While many universities might be expected to host a Tier-3 system, Tier-2 is beyond the capabilities of most. This investment by EPSRC will increase the range of computing capability and capacity on offer to UK researchers. The range of technologies on offer through the EPSRC Tier-2 facilities complement the UK National Supercomputing Service, ARCHER, and allow a wider range of research communities across the UK to use HPC to further their research.

This tiered approach to HPC is part of EPSRC’s core strategy for research computing.

Composite Tier-2 system

In addition, EPCC is taking a leadership role by providing free use of its SAFE system administration software, which supports easy user management and reporting on advanced computing services. From a user management point of view, this will allow the new Tier-2 centres across the UK to operate as a single, joined-up system.


Andy Turner, Project Manager, EPCC

Photograph of EPCC’s Cirrus system by Callum Bennetts, Maverick Photo Agency.

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