The supercomputing research facility COSMOS will become an Intel Parallel Computing Center

The Cambridge COSMOS supercomputer, the largest shared memory computer in Europe, was named by computer giant Intel as one of its parallel computing centers, building on a longstanding collaboration between Intel and the University of Cambridge.

The COSMOS facility at the University’s Stephen Hawking Center for Theoretical Cosmology (CTC) is dedicated to research in the fields of cosmology, astrophysics, and particle physics. It was turned on in 2012.

So far, the system has been used to simulate the dynamics of the early universe and for pipelines to analyze the statistics of Planck satellite maps of the cosmic microwave sky. The COSMOS supercomputer was the first very large (over 10 terabytes) single frame shared memory system to incorporate Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors, which are behind the world’s most energy efficient computers.

Intel Parallel Computing Centers (IPCC) are universities, institutions and laboratories that are leaders in their fields. The centers focus on modernizing applications to improve parallelism and scalability through optimizations that take advantage of cores, caches, threads, and vector functions from microprocessors and coprocessors.

As an IPCC, the COSMOS research facility receives extended Intel support from its applications and development teams as well as early access to future Intel Xeon Phi and other Intel products that are geared towards high-performance computing. IPCC status allows COSMOS to focus more on delivering computing advances to the scientific community and to highlight the efforts Intel has made to advance high performance computing.

At maximum performance, the COSMOS supercomputer can perform 38.6 trillion calculations per second (TFLOPS) and is based on SGI UV2000 systems with 1856 cores of the Intel Xeon processors E5-2600, 14.8 TB RAM and 31 Intel® Xeon PhiTM Coprocessors.

The research center has already developed Xeon Phi for the Planck satellite analysis of the cosmic microwave sky and for simulations of the very early universe. These features will become even more important in the near future, until new generations of Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors and related technologies arrive.

“I am delighted that the COSMOS Supercomputing Center has been selected among the avant-garde Intel Parallel Computing Centers worldwide,” said Professor Stephen Hawking, founder of the COSMOS Consortium. “These are exciting times for cosmology as we are using COSMOS to test our mathematical theories directly on the latest observational data. Intel’s new technology and additional support will accelerate our scientific research.”

“Building on the previous success of COSMOS with Intel’s Many Integrated Core-based technology, our new IPCC status will ensure that we remain at the forefront of those using multicore architecture for cosmological research,” said COSMOS Director Professor Paul Shellard. “With the SGI UV2, which is based on Intel Xeon processors of the E5-2600 family and Intel Xeon Phi processors, we have a flexible HPC platform on which we can accelerate Xeon Phi using distributed, offload and shared -Memory programming models. Intel support provides fast speed time scales for code development using MICs, which improves the competitiveness and discovery potential of COSMOS. “

“Intel Parallel Computing Centers are collaborations for the modernization of important applications in order to achieve performance increases achieved through parallelism and to pave the way for the next leap of discovery.

We are very excited to be working with the COSMOS team to understand the origins of the universe, “said Stephan Gillich, Director of Technical Computing at Intel EMEA.

COSMOS is part of the DiRAC (Distributed Research Using Advanced Computing) facility funded by the Science & Technology Facilities Council and the Department of Business Innovation and Skills.

Intel is flirting with an exascal leap in supercomputing. Provided by the University of Cambridge

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