Maxwell supercomputer at The University of Aberdeen supporting ground breaking genomics research

Maxwell supercomputer at The University of Aberdeen supporting ground breaking genomics research

By Russell Slack, managing director at OCF

As a research-intensive university, the University of Aberdeen relies heavily on its High Performance Computing (HPC) system to support ground breaking research and its new HPC cluster, named Maxwell, is doing just that.

Designed, integrated and managed by OCF, the supercomputer is being used by the University’s Centre for Genome-Enabled Biology and Medicine (CGEBM) and also provides a centralised HPC system for the whole University with applications in medicine, biological sciences, engineering, chemistry, maths and computing science.

Rapid analysis of complex genomics datasets

With Maxwell, the University’s CGEBM is able to rapidly analyse complex genomics datasets from known and novel organisms and help researchers to revolutionise the study of the Earth’s biodiversity and complex ecosystems important to health and disease, agriculture or the environment. It is estimated that only around 1 per cent of the Earth’s biodiversity is easily culturable in a laboratory, and there is little knowledge on most living organisms on the planet.

Maxwell supercomputer at The University of Aberdeen supporting ground breaking genomics research

With the use of HPC, University researchers can analyse microbiomes associated with a diverse array of ecosystems, such as the human gut, fish important to Scottish aquaculture, glaciers, deep-sea sediments, soil and bioreactors for the production of sustainable and environmentally friendly biofuels.  These state-of-the-art studies provide new understanding of important and diverse biological processes such as antimicrobial drug resistance; pathogen detection, evolution and virulence; mechanisms of drug efficacy and toxicity; development; inflammation; tumorigenesis; nutrition and satiety; and degradation of hydrocarbons.

Whats behind the technical Infrastructure

With twenty times more storage than the University’s previous HPC system, Maxwell comprises four Lenovo ThinkSystem SD530 servers, 40 compute notes, ThinkParkQ supported BeeGFS Parallel FileSystem hosted on Lenovo Servers and Storage and NVIDIA GPU’s. OCF is also providing an OpenSource Software Stack and its OCF Remote HPC Admin Managed Service to support the in-house HPC team.

Aberdeen’s investment in its HPC is a credit to its foresight in the importance of HPC in research that impacts people and everyday lives.

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