Big-data software looks to boost energy efficiency with cash injection

The UK government has invested £30m into developing energy-efficient supercomputer software to meet big data challenges.
Written by Sam Shead, Contributor

The UK government is investing £30m into developing energy-efficient supercomputer software that can handle enormous datasets, such as those produced in scientific experiments.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) — a research organisation that is part of the government's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) — has invested the money in an attempt to develop a range of power-efficient computing technologies and software that is capable of handling the extensive datasets created by large experimental research initiatives. 

"This investment will enable the development of new, more capable and more energy-efficient computing for an immense range of applications," said Prof John Womersley, chief executive at STFC, in a statement. "For the consumer, it could result in longer-life mobile communications for phones and tablet computers."

The £30m investment is coming out of the £600m chancellor George Osborne allocated to science funding in the 2012 Autumn Statement. The STFC is allocating £19m of the investment to Daresbury Laboratory's Hartree Centre, which will use it to develop energy-efficient software with the help of the UK's most powerful supercomputer, an IBM BlueGene/Q dubbed 'Blue Joule'.

Adrian Wander, a director at Daresbury Laboratory's Computational Science and Engineering department, told ZDNet that the energy-efficient computing research will focus on three areas. 

The centre will aim to develop hardware that can achieve more flops per Watt from computer systems, said Wander. It will also try to understand the performance of algorithms and software by profiling performance and energy consumption, he said. Finally, the centre will look at ways to lower the power usage effectiveness (PUE) of machine rooms by studying different architectures. 

The other £11m has been dedicated to developing software that can handle the vast amounts of data produced by the world's largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which is based in southern Africa and Australia and will be fully operational by 2024. IBM has also pledged €32.9m (£27.4m) to develop new technologies that can help scientists study the two exabytes of data that the telescope generates every day.  

BIS previously awarded the Daresbury Laboratory Hartree Centre £37.5m to develop software that runs on existing and future computer and network hardware. 

Editorial standards