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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/X039137/1
Title: The GW4 Isambard Tier-2 service for advanced computer architectures
Principal Investigator: McIntosh-Smith, Professor SN
Other Investigators:
Davenport, Professor JH Tabor, Professor G Guest, Professor MF
Mulholland, Professor AJ
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Computer Science
Organisation: University of Bristol
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 April 2023 Ends: 31 March 2027 Value (£): 8,508,100
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
High Performance Computing
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
29 Nov 2022 EPSRC Strategic Equipment Interview Panel November 2022 - Panel 2 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
This proposal is to fund the Isambard 3 Tier-2 national HPC service from the GW4 Alliance universities of Bristol, Bath, Cardiff and Exeter.

Isambard 3 will follow on from the successful Isambard 1 & 2 projects, delivering a supercomputer service based on the increasingly important Arm architecture. Isambard 3 will employ NVIDIA's new 'Grace' Arm-based processors, due out in early 2023, to build a fast yet highly energy efficient service. Isambard 3 will be moving into its own dedicated facility, hosted by the University of Bristol. This new facility, homed within a new modular data centre, will for the first time employ direct liquid cooling to the processors, reducing the total amount of energy used for cooling the system, and creating the opportunity to extract and use the waste heat.

We expect to procure a system of at least 6 racks, 55,000 cores, which should be large enough to rank in the Top500 list of supercomputers at SC in Nov 2023.

Isambard 3 will also continue to provide a Multi Architecture Comparison System, or MACS, which will includes 2-4 nodes of every important new CPU and GPU architecture to be released during the 4 year lifetime of the Isambard 3 service. This will enable scientifically rigorous architectural comparisons between Arm and the latest CPUs and GPUs from Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, and other emerging providers.

The Isambard 3 service will feature an expanded support team compared to previous services, including 6 RSEs and 2 systems administrators on the technical support side, as well as 0.5 FTE of project manager, and a business development manager on the user community engagement and development side.

In summary, the successful Isambard Arm-based Tier-2 service will be expanding to support a much wider user community across all of UKRI, with the first Arm-based server CPUs optimised specifically for HPC from a top-tier silicon vendor. It will be one of the first such systems anywhere in the world, and deliver one of the most energy efficient, low carbon, general purpose CPU services available. The Grace processors should be amongst the fastest available for Isambard's user community, which we expect to expand into weather and climate applications, as well as life sciences and beyond.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.bris.ac.uk