High Performance Computing

The computing capability and expertise at PML enables scientists to process vast amounts of data to tackle some of the largest challenges in marine science. The facility is pivotal in supporting the cutting-edge science produced by both the Earth Observation and Modelling groups at PML.

PML has extensive computing facilities, in two interconnected data centres. This includes a high throughput computing (HTC) system consisting of 4 redundant master nodes and approximately 160 multi-core compute nodes (giving a total of over 1000 cores and 5TB of RAM) interconnected with fast networking (Gigabit Ethernet) and linked to approximately 5PB of networked storage.

In addition, PML has a high performance computing (HPC) cluster. This HPC is comprised of 36 nodes (each more powerful than 4 top-of-the-range desktop computers) connected over a super-fast InfiniBand network with 45TB of fast-access disk space. Two of the nodes serve as high-memory nodes with 256GB of RAM each. The entire HPC system has 720 cores with 4.8TB of total RAM which yields 24 teraflops of performance.

This state-of-the-art technology is backed by security controlled access, humidity/temperature controls and a fire suppression system to protect crucial data. Storage, networking and key servers are protected by redundant power supplies and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems, and all core computing facilities are automatically monitored. PML also operates data services for distributing large volumes of earth observation and modelling data using redundant virtualised web servers, with advanced web visualisation and collaboration tools fostered in an open-source development process.

A recent addition to the computing facilities hosted at PML is the Massive GPU Cluster for Earth Observation (MAGEO), which was funded through a NERC transformational capital award in 2019 to provide capability to apply deep learning to Earth observation data. The cluster is housed at PML and operated through NERC Earth Observation Data Acquisition and Analysis Service (NEODAAS). This facility provides a service to UK researchers, supporting scientists seeking to apply deep learning tools to their own data, or to deep learning experts looking to apply their techniques to Earth observation data.

The cluster is built around 5 special edition NVIDIA DGX-1 MaxQ nodes which are more energy efficient than standard nodes. A graphical front end, based around Jupyter Hub, allows access from within a browser. It is envisaged that MAGEO will be used for a diverse range of applications including wildfire, oil spill and plastics detection, mangrove mapping and satellite and airborne data fusion, however at present it is contributing to the COVID-19 sequencing effort by donating computing power to Folding@Home.


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