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  • University of Aberdeen consolidates research computing systems into one central environment for simplified management and increased compute power
  • High Performance Computer cluster supports improved collaboration across research departments
  • Improved scalability allows University to plan for future research projects

The University of Aberdeen has introduced a new high performance computer (HPC) cluster from Dell to consolidate and help simplify the management of individual department research IT systems. This new infrastructure will encourage cross-discipline collaboration with the ultimate goal of generating fresh research ideas and creating new opportunities for scientific breakthrough.

The University of Aberdeen has a strong legacy of pioneering research and has four principal interdisciplinary focus themes: Energy, The North, Environment & Food Security and Pathways to Healthy Living. To expand its research potential and drive standards higher than ever before, the University needed an IT system that would offer compute power to support large amounts of data and complex simulations.

Dr Brian Robertson, Head of Infrastructure Management, University of Aberdeen comments: “Our main aim of the project is to free researchers from the burden of system management and provide a computational service backed by a dedicated team of IT professionals. Researchers will have more time to carry out their research rather than dealing with more mundane administrative issues. The new cluster will also open up potential for research projects across departments and encourage more collaboration to spark new and exciting opportunities.”

The new HPC cluster, named ‘Maxwell’ after the eminent Scottish physicist, was implemented with the help of Dell and Alces Software to consolidate all research computing systems used across the University’s many departments. This meant decommissioning its existing disparate clusters, some of which were nearing end of life, and moving the workloads onto one central cluster that is managed by a dedicated IT team who are on hand to help the researchers utilise the HPC as efficiently and cost effectively as possible and enables different departments to analyse large volumes of data much faster than the previous set-up.

Maxwell is built on PowerEdge C6220 servers, PowerVault MD3200 and MD1200 storage as well as PowerConnect 6248 networking switches, providing a very scalable environment which allows academics from all departments to run a variety of computational work in a unified environment. The scalability of the HPC is vital for the University as it looks to increase the amount of research carried out at the institution, relying on the new system to continue to support growth into the future.


“As a university that is known for its outstanding research, is it vital that we have top class IT systems which can cope with rapidly growing volumes of data and increasing complexity of computational tasks. Through our work with Dell and Alces Software, we have introduced an HPC environment that offers the level of compute power needed to analyse data much faster than was previously possible.” - Dr Brian Robertson, Head of Infrastructure Management, University of Aberdeen.

“Successful research and innovation are the lifeblood of our UK economy, and Dell is thrilled to have had the opportunity to work with the University of Aberdeen to design a cost effective high performance computing environment, focused on helping the University’s Research teams with both their computational analysis and cost effectively managing the associated research data for future use. We look forward to supporting this environment and the University’s research community going forward. This customer-centric approach is something that we’re very proud of – the right IT solution is essential to helping Universities, other Public Sector bodies and companies of all sizes and sectors grow and be successful.” – Claire Vyvyan, general manager & executive director, Public Sector, Dell UK.

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