Dell Technologies Interview: At the Univ. of Bristol’s Advanced Computing Research Centre ‘Typical Doesn’t Exist’

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In this interview, part of our series done on behalf of Dell Technologies, we spoke with Simon Atack, HPC team leader of the Advanced Computing Research Centre at the UK’s University of Bristol, where he’s been for the past eight years.

The centre supports about 2,000 users and has an extensive HPC infrastructure engaged in a range of scientific fields, including genomics, molecular dynamics and earth and environmental simulation. Much of this work runs on Dell Technologies supercomputing technology, which Atacks oversees.

Here he talks about the centre’s recent upgrades, including bringing in Dell ME4 and ME5 storage arrays, new Dell servers powered by AMD processors and, for AI workloads, Dell PowerEdge XE8545 servers powered by AMD EPYC CPUs and NVIDIA A100 GPUs. And he looks forward to the centre’s next tranche of Dell HPC gear.

Atack also said that some Dell hardware at the centre goes back to 2013 – “It’s been in continuous use,” he said, “it’s just kept going and going and going.”

Atack noted that Bristol’s user community ranges from first- and second-year undergraduates through to post-docs with advanced scientific computing workloads. The variety of users means extensive support is required from the centre’s staff and from Dell. “There’s no such thing as a typical user with typical needs here,” Atack said. “Typical doesn’t exist.”