High performance computing (HPC) at Bath supports a growing and wide range of research activities across the University. Over the coming months, the University is investing in a new state-of-the-art research computing infrastructure.

Our old supercomputer named Balena, will be replaced by a powerful HPC environment based within Microsoft Azure Cloud, and a new bespoke on-campus HTC (High Throughput Computing) cluster running software applications that can’t be moved off campus.

In addition to these two new environments, academics at Bath will continue to have access to GW4’s regional Isambard HPC service.

Leading the way in research computing

As the first university worldwide to move almost all its HPC research to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, Bath is leading the way in research computing.

With the new cloud environment, Bath's academics and research students will get:

  • No queue access to tackle much larger and more complex research challenges
  • Significantly reduced compute times, speeding up our process of scientific discovery
  • A large diversity of cutting edge compute options, regularly updated to meet evolving research needs

Proof of concept pilot

The decision to move to cloud research computing follows two years of exploring the suitability of the new infrastructure. Last summer the University successfully ran a pilot HPC cloud service with 24 researchers.

Commenting on her experience of taking part in the pilot, Dr Katharine Fraser, Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering, said:

“We used Azure as part of the pilot project for running our computational fluid dynamics simulations with the program OpenFoam. It was great to be able to run these large simulations just when we wanted, rather than waiting in the queue, and transitioning from Balena was straightforward with Azure having a user-friendly interface.

“In future, the wide variety of nodes will be beneficial for running different types of simulations. The flexibility that cloud computing promises for engineering research is really exciting!"

Prof Nick Brook, Dean of the Faculty of Science and member of the Project Board, said:

“This is an exciting time for research computing at the University. Embracing Cloud solutions will allow us to respond nimbly to emerging needs and requirements.

“There will be challenges along the way but I’m looking forward to working with the Advancing Research Computing group within DDaT to deliver computing solutions to meet the ambition of the University’s research agenda.”