In a UK first, Bath launches powerful full-cloud supercomputing capability

Named Nimbus, the new supercomputer will unlock near-limitless processing power for research and innovation

The University of Bath has powered up its research and innovation capability by launching a new cloud-based supercomputer, becoming the world’s first university to move all possible computing workload to the cloud.

Named -Nimbus-, the high-performance cloud computing environment is among the most advanced at any university in the world.

The launch marks a major step forward for Bath’s research capabilities, speeding up the scientific discovery process and allowing researchers to carry out more computationally intensive research.

During tests Bath researchers found that Nimbus allowed them to do work in three months that previously took three years, showing the potential of the system to exponentially accelerate and intensify research into resolving global issues. Teams have already used the system to advance research into lifesaving medical devices, new materials for batteries and to optimise important machine learning algorithms.

Professor Ian White, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bath, said: -Our new Nimbus research computing infrastructure opens up many new possibilities for innovation and represents a major step forward for our research capabilities. This access to near limitless computational power will be an important tool in our armoury as we seek to achieve our ambitious research goals and tackle major global challenges in areas such as energy, transport, public health and sustainable living.-

Research computing more powerful, flexible and robust

Nimbus is the central pillar the University’s new portfolio of research computing environments , which will be available to all Bath researchers and PhD students. As well as the new supercomputer, this includes an additional on-site Antara HTC (high throughput computing) cluster which runs software applications that can’t run in the cloud, and the GW4 regional Isambard HPC (high performance computing) service, a collaboration with the universities of Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter, and The Met Office.

Running on the Azure Cloud platform, Nimbus can be scaled to offer computing power as it is needed. The platform includes AI and machine learning capabilities and can be continually updated to add the latest, most advanced tools, without needing to pause ongoing work, all in a secure environment.

In addition to the research benefits, Nimbus has allowed several University of Bath courses that involve computer science and mathematics, to be fully migrated to the cloud - improving students- programming literacy and a given them better awareness of computing environments they will encounter in the world of work.

Launch event marks switch-on

Keynote speakers at a launch event on Thursday 22 September included Richard Lawrence, IT Fellow in Supercomputing at The Met Office, and Laura Parry, Senior HPC + AI Specialist at Microsoft.

University colleagues also gave talks on ways in which Nimbus will be used to compute research in areas including climatology, memory in older adults, chemistry and nanomaterials.

Nimbus was named after the type of dramatic looking clouds, and the crown of light rays surrounding a person in art, following a competition that received over 70 suggestions.

Attendees of Research Computing event celebrate Nimbus launch