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HPE boosts Hong Kong university research with new HPC cluster

The company said the new cluster is nearly 10 times faster than what the university was previously using

HPE has built a new high-performance computing (HPC) cluster for the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) to bolster scientific research and accelerate innovation.

HPE said the new cluster is a significant performance upgrade to the university’s previous HPC resources, delivering nearly 10 times faster speed in HPC and AI applications. It will be used to improve modelling and simulation across biomedicine, quantum chemistry, and social and behavioural science.

The new CityU cluster, nicknamed CityU Burgundy, is built using the HPE Apollo 2000 and HPE Apollo 6500 Gen10 Plus systems. It also is designed with 328 AMD EPYC 77422 processors, 56 Nvidia V100 Tensor Core GPUs, and 8 Nvidia A100 80GB Tensor Core GPUs.

CityU’s resources previously consisted of siloed clusters that used older generations of computing technology, which couldn’t scale or support demand for higher computational performance, said HPE. It added that the disparate system created a challenge for users to efficiently access the technology and meet their research goals.

This made the university turn to HPE to design a faster central HPC cluster to serve as an energy-efficient, centralised system for its research community. The tech company included additional advancements including lower-latency networking and advanced and accelerated computing.

HPE said that by consolidating the compute capacity in a single location with the new cluster, CityU has increased compute capacity and utilisation, and significantly reduced data centre space and its carbon footprint. The consolidated location also allows the university’s IT team to measure energy requirements and save additional electricity by turning off more chiller plants in various buildings easily and effectively.

“At CityU, HPC plays a critical role in helping us build and support a world-class research team to continue making scientific breakthroughs for humankind,” said Dominic Chien, senior scientific officer of HPC at CityU. “The new HPC cluster brings us one step closer to building Hong Kong’s most powerful HPC platform for academia while achieving operational efficiency and reduced costs. It is particularly encouraging to see an early signal of success as the HPC platform has helped reduce the turnaround time of computations by three to seven times in a quantum chemistry research project.”

CityU’s researchers will be able to use the cluster to advance biomedicine to speed up insights into chronic diseases and treatment, expand the use of HPC in other disciplines through its data analysing capabilities, and research new projects like consumer behaviour science and algorithmic trading.

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HPE has been making forays into the APAC region with its HPC offerings recently. In April last year, it was awarded a £22 million contract to build a new supercomputer for the National Supercomputing Centre Singapore (NSCC), set to be operational early this year. The system was going to be 8x faster than the NSCC’s existing HPC resources.

Then, in December, it announced it would build a new supercomputer for Thailand’s National Science and Technology Development Agency, which is set to be 30 times faster than its existing system and is expected to be operational by 2022.

Other tech companies in this sector have also shown an interest in the region, with Microsoft announcing in February that Singapore’s Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX) had chosen it to develop a sovereign cloud to accelerate digital transformation.

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