European funding can ‘spur’ UK development of HPC technology

The UK data centre industry must seize the opportunity to access funding provided by the European Commission and use it to become a world leader in high performance computing (HPC) technology. This is according to Greg McCulloch, CEO of Aegis Data.

The European Commission’s Horizon 2020 program has made €40 million available to finance the development of HPC technology, and the government is encouraging UK organisations to apply for this funding, despite the uncertainty around Brexit.

The European Commission has identified HPC as a key technology to drive significantly faster data processing and the development of new services and business models across Europe. Originally used by researchers to analyse huge quantities of data, HPC is now growing in popularity across the commercial sector thanks to its potential to support emerging technologies that generate vast reams of data.

>See also: Accelerating automotive development with HPC simulation

McCulloch commented: “The release of funding to finance the development of HPC presents the UK data centre industry with a fantastic opportunity to hone its existing expertise in HPC and become a hub for the management, processing and storage of data generated by emerging technology.”

“The rise of technologies such as big data and IoT has led to enterprises needing to handle more data than ever, faster than ever. With continued investment and development in HPC technology, UK data centre providers will be well-positioned to profit from this explosion in data management requirements, enabling them to service a variety of new vertical markets and business types.”

McCulloch goes on to stress that while the opportunities afforded by HPC are vast, data centre providers must be prepared to deliver the technology faster, smarter and more efficiently to stay ahead of competitors: “HPC technology holds many benefits for the data centre community and the release of funding will further add to this, but there are a number of considerations which firms must take onboard when it comes to delivery.”

First, he suggests, “proofing your facility for HPC must not be at the expense of mid-range customers. Focusing an entire site on HPC will considerably limit your audience and therefore it is imperative that any investment is still able to account for traditional mission-critical applications, as well as increased customer demand for dense configurations. In doing so you will significantly enhance your ability to process fluctuating data volumes.”

>See also: Using supercomputing to attract research and investment

“Additionally, cooling. Data centre providers are going to great lengths to minimise cooling costs, but understandably HPC brings certain obstacles. Some HPC providers have tried to ensure consistent cooling by deploying liquid cooling, larger fans or conductive cooling methods. Typically, however, the rate at which heat is produced is greater than the rate at which cooling accelerants or fans can dissipate this heat. It is therefore important for centres to be built with systems in place that far exceed the maximum cooling requirements, especially those embracing HPC.”

“Finally, space is often seen as a major consideration, especially as the majority of facilities are located in or around major cities. Building on an existing site is a big CAPEX expense and is often hindered by physical boundaries. Building an entirely new site with HPC capabilities can be a more viable option, but again this is a significant investment. In light of organisations carrying and processing unprecedented data volumes it’s imperative that data centre providers are able to understand where current and future demand for HPC capabilities is likely to stem from – this will allow you to tailor you offering accordingly, in order to truly capitalise on the scope of the technology.”


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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