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.

The move to research computing in the cloud marks the beginning of a new era for computationally intensive research at Bath.

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

  • No queue access to tackle larger and more complex research challenges, speeding up our process of scientific discovery
  • A large diversity of compute and data storage options that can meet evolving research needs
  • Cutting edge hardware: cloud environments give researchers access to the newest hardware, with compute options regularly updated

Please join the Virtual Town Hall on 23 September for staff and research students where we will present the roadmap for the new research computing environments and what they will look like.

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.”

Virtual Town Hall meeting

Please join the Virtual Town Hall on 23 September to learn more about the new research computing environments and decommissioning plans for Balena.

We welcome any questions you have about the University's new research computing facility. Please submit your questions ahead of the Virtual Town Hall.