DiRAC is the UK's integrated supercomputing facility for theoretical modelling and HPC-based research in particle physics, astronomy and cosmology.
As part of DiRAC, EPCC hosts a 6144-node Blue Gene/Q system at the University of Edinburgh's Advanced Computing Facility. EPCC also provide service support for the entire DiRAC consortium.
HPC-based modelling remains an essential tool for the exploitation of observational and experimental facilities in astronomy and particle physics, as this technology allows scientists to test their theories and run simulations from the data gathered in experiments. The UK has an extremely strong HPC community and continued investment in these powerful computing facilities will allow the UK science community to pursue cutting-edge research on a broad range of topics, from simulating the entire evolution of the universe, from the big bang to the present, to modelling the structure of matter.
DiRAC provides a variety of computer architectures, matching machine architecture to the algorithm design and requirements of the research problems to be solved. There are sound scientific reasons for this choice which was adopted as a philosophy following a number of in-depth reviews involving the research community which gave detailed advice on the nature and balance of resources required by the STFC research community. The demands of the different research domains supported by STFC are such that a distributed installation was the most cost effective way to satisfy the varied scientific requirements.
The five hardware installations that form the DiRAC supercomputing resources are:
- EPCC, University of Edinburgh, 6144 node Blue Gene/Q
- University of Cambridge HPCS Service: Data Analytic Cluster
- University of Cambridge COSMOS Shared Memory Service
- University of Leicester Complexity Cluster
- University of Durham Data Centric Cluster