HPC

Stephen Hawking's boffin buds buy HPE HPC to ogle universe

But can COSMOS find a way to improve HPE profits? Hmmm


Well, would ya look at that? Hewlett Packard Enterprise has retained a customer. Stephen Hawking's Centre for Theoretical Cosmology (COSMOS) has slurped the firm's latest data-crunching HPC system to better understand the universe.

The Superdome Flex server was deployed eight days ago at the unit, part of the University of Cambridge's mathematics department, but the box's cost and specs used remain a closely guarded secret. The rest of the world will be able to buy the product from today.

Director Paul Shellard has worked at COSMOS since its inception in 1997, when the unit bought its first in-memory compute platform, SGI's Origin 2000 (HPE acquired SGI in 2016).

"Our purpose is to test our mathematical theories against the latest observational data so we can develop a seamless history of the universe from its origins to the present day and understand all the structures we see around us," Shellard told a bunch of journos at HPE Discover in Madrid.

Current research projects centre on simulating "mini Big Bangs" on the computers to "make predictions about the universe" and then use data to "see if we can see those signatures". Another is using HPC to study the collision of black holes that made ripples in space-time.

COSMOS is faced with a two-pronged challenge, said Shellard, the "flood of new data and new categories of data". It needs a single system to compare computer-modelled data with "theory-driven science".

"You can develop your data analytics pipelines more rapidly, can validate them and then scale them up. It is faster to implement our theoretical ideas," he said.

Now comes the HPE Superdome Flex sales pitch, which must surely have secured COSMOS a healthy discount: "The key factor is flexibility and ease of use so you can do more with fewer people, you don't have to be an expert parallel programer basically, you can get going and scale up to large problems quickly," said Shellard.

"Advanced HPC systems are very complicated, you've got vector levels, threads and then you've got nodes – three levels are vested powers – and all sorts of learning hierarchies. You want to simplify that so the scientists and get traction, get moving and develop ideas at scale."

He described software development as a "bottleneck".

"Taxpayers are generous in allowing us to do blue sky research projects but not that generous... Developing this stuff is difficult and you only have limited support for advanced programs."

Shellard claimed of Superdome Flex, it is "very easy to write programs for this architecture".

In addition to studying gravitational waves, the next big focus will also be on neutron stars, he told us.

COSMOS was using a previous generation SGI HPC box. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading
  • Big Tech loves talking up privacy – while trying to kill privacy legislation
    Study claims Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft work to derail data rules

    Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft often support privacy in public statements, but behind the scenes they've been working through some common organizations to weaken or kill privacy legislation in US states.

    That's according to a report this week from news non-profit The Markup, which said the corporations hire lobbyists from the same few groups and law firms to defang or drown state privacy bills.

    The report examined 31 states when state legislatures were considering privacy legislation and identified 445 lobbyists and lobbying firms working on behalf of Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with industry groups like TechNet and the State Privacy and Security Coalition.

    Continue reading
  • SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake
    Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

    America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

    A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

    Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022