University of Birmingham deploys advanced AI computing power for research

Researchers at the University of Birmingham are set to benefit from the largest IBM® POWER9™ Artificial Intelligence (AI) computer cluster in the UK.
 
The University will integrate a total of 11 IBM POWER9 systems into its existing high-performance computing (HPC) infrastructure, called the Birmingham Environment for Academic Research (BEAR).
 
The system will deliver unprecedented performance for the ever-increasing AI workloads generated by the University’s researchers, delivering ground-breaking computational vision analysis and helping to solve life sciences challenges, such as improving cancer diagnosis.
 
“It’s very important to us as a research-led institution that we are at the forefront of data research which means we are always looking at ways to make AI quicker and more accessible for our researchers,” said Simon Thompson, Research Computing Infrastructure Architect at the University of Birmingham. “With the sheer amount of data, the common questions from researchers are how can we analyse it fast enough and how can we make the process even quicker? With our early deployment of the two IBM POWER9 servers we have seen what is possible. By scaling up, we can keep-pace with the escalating demand and offer the computational capacity and capability to attract leading researchers to the University.”
 
This significant enhancement to BEAR will mean an even more powerful and versatile computing environment to serve researchers. For example, fellows from The Alan Turing Institute looking at early diagnosis of and new therapies for heart disease and cancer, will use AI to run faster diagnostics in the future. In contrast, researchers in the physical sciences are similarly using machine learning and data science approaches to quantify the 4D (3D plus time) microstructures of advanced materials collected at national large synchrotron facilities such as the Diamond Light Source.
 
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