The annual symposium at Bath brings together people from across the University to discuss how they use High Performance Computing (HPC) in their research. This year, the event included talks from several departments as well as keynote speakers from Intel and Cardiff University. People with projects from many diverse research areas attended and presented their work on topics such as data sharing in biology, computational screening of inorganic materials and topological optimization. All of these projects benefit hugely from HPC.

My PhD research centres around the efficient simulation of rare events and determining the probability of their occurrence. How likely is it that a tsunami will strike this coastal city? What was the probability of this genetic mutation? Could this village be destroyed by a lava flow? To answer questions like these requires computer codes that concurrently simulate a very large number of sophisticated systems. The C++ program's that perform these simulations take a ludicrously long time to run. The University's HPC computing system, Balena, allows these computations to be sped up dramatically, often by a factor of more than 20. This makes it simpler to consider more sophisticated systems and to perform analysis of much rarer events. A simulation that would have otherwise taken a month to run now takes less than two days.

Furthermore, with Balena facilitating the execution of several codes simultaneously, researchers can obtain results from many different simulations at the same time. Balena has a huge amount of software and hardware available for researchers to employ: various compilers, a SLURM scheduler and MPI libraries for parallelizing code. Of particular use to my research are the Allinea profiling tools which make it easy to identify bottlenecks and bugs and to pinpoint memory leaks. The system also enables the use of accelerator cards, such as the Intel Xeon Phi's, which can reduce computation time even further. I'd encourage any researcher at Bath to utilise Balena for its wide range of computational tools and for the considerable amount of time that it can save you in your research.




Posted in: Advancing Research Computing, High Performance Computing (HPC), Research


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