Supercomputer centre logs on to give Bristol powerful test-bed for innovation

December 11, 2013

Bristol’s world-leading supercomputing centre, which is used to tackle major industrial and social problems, has officially started work in its new base.

The massive computing power at the state-of-the-art Centre for Modelling and Simulation (CFMS) allows it to solve highly-complex calculations – making it possible to explore and test out future challenges, from the impact of population growth to advanced composites for industry.

The national centre was launched at UWE in 2009 by six founding companies – Airbus, BAE Systems, WilliamsF1, Fraser Nash, MBDA and Rolls-Royce – with a key ambition to use high performance computing to speed up, by one million times, calculations required to simulate the interaction of liquids and gases with surfaces.

It has now moved to the Bristol & Bath Science Park at Emersons Green where it continues to act as a test bed for businesses of all sizes, offering ‘technology watching’ to help companies shape their futures and reduce the risks industry has to take when it wants to innovate.

CFMS chairman Nick Buckland OBE said: “This is a safe and trusted place where industry can work with academics to explore how they might test out ideas, avoid risk and gain competitive advantage.

“Our space also offers opportunities for large companies to work with nimble, small companies to bring in game-changing technologies, growing the small businesses but not disrupting and destabilising the large ones.

“We are lucky to be on Bristol & Bath Science Park as it is becoming an iconic site, hosting the National Composites Centre and key companies we want to work with to shape the future.”

Professor Joe McGeehen CBE, one of the world’s technology pioneers and founder of the University of Bristol’s Centre for Communications Research, gave the keynote speech at the centre’s recent official launch in its new home.

He said: “This centre is a place I would have given my back teeth for 30 years ago. I dreamed about it and to see it in reality is fantastic. A centre like this makes it harder for people to say ‘you can’t do it’.

“In the future there will be more and more need for the CFMS – it will help future cities plan for all the data, transport and energy flows of population increases. The HPC [high-performance] cluster here makes it possible to simulate big and fascinating problems and discover solutions. It allows for products and processes to be fully tested, avoiding problems down the line.”

The future ambition of the CFMS is to support users to adopt modelling, simulation tools and techniques and to provide the technology foresight and assessment, so enabling industrial partners to accelerate effective innovation.

The move to the Science Park included painstakingly taking apart and rebuilding the large high performance computing cluster which lies at the heart of the centre.

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