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UK universities are first to take IBM’s POWER9 to further academic research

Two of the UK’s higher education institutions have become the first in the world to employ IBM’s new POWER9 servers for high-performance computing (HPC).

Queen Mary and Newcastle Universities will employ the IBM systems (with POWER9 processors and Nvidia Tesla GPUs) for analytics and AI workloads, as well as HPC. Academics have said that they will use the servers for research into areas including feature tracking through video analysis; modelling social networks; predictive models for music; and analysis of particle interaction from the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

Teaching staff will also use the servers, for courses in Queen Mary’s School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), and potentially in areas of the School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Professor Sean Gong, head of the Computer Vision Research Group at EECS, said, “Given our previous test trials on IBM Minsky POWER8 servers, we expect to see significant benefit from the new POWER9 servers for deep learning on big video data.”

Thomas King, assistant director for research in IT services, added, “This is a great demonstration of how the university is investing in cutting-edge research equipment for researchers and students.”

Julian Fielden, Managing Director of HPC and storage integrator OCF, said:

“Modern AI, HPC and analytics workloads are driving an ever-growing set of data-intensive challenges. These challenges can only be met with accelerated infrastructure, such as IBM’s POWER9. In such a highly competitive field as academic research, providing superior HPC services to compute large quantities of data quickly can help to attract world-class researchers, as well as grants and funding.”

Queen Mary University is on the verge of joining the Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for data science and AI, as a university partner.

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