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Tech

UK's largest GPU supercomputer powers up with 114 teraflops

Emerald supercomputer enters service, aims to tackle heathcare, astrophysics and other giant data crunching problems
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director

The UK's most powerful GPU-based supercomputer entered service on Tuesday.
The Emerald supercomputer boasts 372 Nvidia Tesla M2090GPUs, and is ranked 159th in the world rankings of most powerful supercomputers, with 6,960 cores and 114 teraflops of processing power.
Both Emerald, based at the Science and Technology Facilities Council's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, and its counterpart Iridis, a supercomputer at the University of Southampton, have been funded by a £3.7m grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
While most supercomputing is CPU based, GPUs can be many times more efficient at certain supercomputing tasks than CPUs because they have more processing cores. This makes GPUs adept at tasks involving display and simulation – for example, visualising a protein.
GPU-based supercomputers use CPUs and GPUs together to make the best use of their individual talents. Or, as the EPSRC puts it: "The sequential part of the application runs on the CPU and the computationally-intensive part is accelerated by the high floating point performance of the GPU's hundreds of processor cores that operate together to crunch through the data in the application."
Researchers will use the supercomputers to tackle areas ranging from healthcare and astrophysics (real-time pulsar detection application for the forthcoming Square Kilometre Array Project) to simulating 3G and 4G communications networks and developing new tools for processing and managing medical images.

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