QMUL, Newcastle University deploy IBM POWER9 servers

QMUL, Newcastle University deploy IBM POWER9 servers

Two UK universities have become the first academic institutions in the country to deploy IBM’s POWER9 systems.

Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and Newcastle University  have taken the delivery of the systems for modern high-performance computing (HPC), analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) workloads.

The systems will be integrated into their existing HPC infrastructures by storage and data analytics firm OCF. QMUL has bought two IBM Accelerated Compute Servers (AC922) powered by POWER9 CPUs, Volta GPUs and NVLink 2.0 interconnects.

The university requires latest technology to enable researchers to excel in areas where Deep Learning is used to solve scientific challenges.


QMUL Computer Vision Research Group head Professor Sean Gong 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.”

The AC922 is said to make use of IBM’s new POWER9 processor with various modern connectivity capabilities, which enhances data movement by up to 5.6x over the PCIe Gen 3 buses found in x86 servers. To unlock new potential for accelerated computing, IBM Power Systems offer the only architecture enabling NVLink between CPUs and graphics processing units.

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Newcastle University researchers at its Mathematics, Statistics and Physics departments were looking to use the GPU-accelerated platform for computational physics projects. Carlo Barenghi,the co-director of the joint quantum centre at Newcastle University, said: “The major difficulty we face is that our calculations are non-linear, time-dependent and three-dimensional, so solving them is out of reach with pencil and paper, and the numerical computation requires large memory and fast speed – we are humbled from the start.

“We did some investigations and the IBM POWER9 system was the best technology for our work – in trial runs we got a ‘speed up factor’ in the order of 10x magnitude, so the decision was easily made.”