ARCHER Phase 2 - expanding the UK’S national supercomputer

Supplementary content information

ARCHER computer in room

The shared RCUK ARCHER supercomputer in Edinburgh has just been upgraded to increase its computing power by approximately 60%.

This means ARCHER will have a theoretical top speed of over 2 Petaflops - a massive 2,000,000,000,000,000 operations per second.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) are investing £10 million in this upgrade.

The present ARCHER machine has been operating for about a year; the upgrade will expand the current Cray XC30 system with the same Intel IvyBridge processor technology as originally supplied. Use of identical technology for the upgrade means researchers will be able to use ARCHER in exactly the same way, with much more computing power at their fingertips.

Already, ARCHER has helped scientists to understand advanced materials at the nano-scale, and modelled how air flows around Formula 1 racing cars and aircraft in order to improve fuel efficiency.

ARCHER has also allowed unprecedented resolution in a new, UK, coupled climate model, together with the ability to look at far longer time periods, helping scientists to understand the interaction of powerful and rare events, such as hurricanes, with the rest of the climate system. Ultimately this will improve quantification of risk for society and for, eg the insurance industry.

The upgrade is a result of an in-depth consultation process with users and the wider scientific communities using ARCHER. The clear message was that an expansion of ARCHER using the same technologies and configuration would be preferred. It means that disruption for users will be kept to a minimum, and as a result, the research communities will be able to make immediate and maximum use of the service.

The new, upgraded ARCHER service is expected to be live towards the end of November 2014.

Reference: PN 14-82