Switch-on for Most Powerful University Super Computer in England


The University of Southampton has switched on the Idiris 4 super computer, making the University the proud owner of the most powerful university-based super computer in England.

Staying ahead of the game in High Performance Computing is vital to help the University stay competitive. Simulation and computation enabled by HPC are recognised globally as the ‘third pillar’ of modern research and this investment will ensure we remain world leaders in this field.

Professor Philip Nelson
Pro Vice-Chancellor, University of Southampton

The machine, which is also the third largest academic super computer in the UK and in the global top 30 for academic super computers, goes into service alongside the rest of the University’s IT systems rather than replacing them. Idiris 4 is four times more powerful than its predecessor Idiris 3, which launched in 2010, was upgraded last year and will remain in operation. The system, which is separate from the normal University servers, is used by academics and research students to run programmes that would be too much for a normal PC.

The new super computer has disc space equating to one petabyte, or one million gigabytes, a 50 terabyte memory and is powered by 12, 200 of the latest processors. Each part is designed to handle advanced mathematical and theoretical problems, with each coprocessor being able to handle one trillion calculations a second. This investment, the pride and joy of the University’s Computational Modelling Group, is part of a £3.2 million deal that includes OCF plc, who provide data handling, analytical and storage services, and computing giant IBM.

The growth of Big Data and the availability of computing power like Iridis4 means that the range of research areas that are enabled by supercomputing continues to grow. We look forward to seeing its impact on the University’s research, already recognised for the range and importance of the science conducted on the supercomputer’s predecessor, Iridis3.

Steve Legg
UK University Programs Manager, IBM

It has been hailed by the University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor, Professor Philip Nelson, as “vital in ensuring that the University remains competitive”. Steve Legg, University Programs manager at IBM UK, commented that the new computer would allow more research areas to benefit from the powers of a super computer.

When announcing the launch, the University were keen to express the number of subjects that could benefit from the investment. Case studies include Engineering, Archaeology, Medicine and Computer Science, and research ranging from reducing the noise caused by aeroplane’s wings to designing medical stents that could be used to support a patient’s arteries.




You can read more about the super computer in the University’s press release or on the Computational Modelling Group’s website.


History student and passionate writer about everything connected to Southampton and its rich tapestry of stories and history. Due to an unfortunate case of graduation, this writer is no longer active.

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