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The University of Oxford has been awarded £5.5 million by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), as part of a £27 million investment in seven High Performance Computing (HPC) services.

Computer memory chips

These state-of-the-art supercomputing services will boost UK researchers’ ability to make scientific breakthroughs, such as designing better batteries and improving drug design.

The Oxford-led project, JADE 2 (Joint Academic Data Science Endeavour) is being headed by Professor Wes Armour, Oxford e-Research Centre, Department of Engineering Science.

Hosted at STFC’s Hartree Centre, JADE 2 will be a unique national resource providing a state-of-the-art GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) computing facility for research into Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning and Molecular Dynamics, a computer simulation method for analysing the physical movements of particles that make up molecules.

The AI techniques developed using the service will have impact in a range of sectors including financial services, manufacturing, energy and healthcare. The Molecular Dynamics research conducted on JADE 2 will advance understanding of the structure and function of large biological molecules, many of which are targets for therapeutic agents for a large variety of health conditions. The service will provide a valuable computing resource to the new UKRI Artificial Intelligence Centres for Doctoral training, and thus provide a critical computational capacity needed to develop the next generation of experts in AI.

The project partners are the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cambridge, Exeter, Lancaster, Leeds, Loughborough, Sheffield, Southampton, Surrey, Sussex, Warwick and York, Queen Mary University of London, King’s College London, Imperial College London, UCL, Newcastle University, The Alan Turing Institute, and STFC’s Hartree Centre.

The previous phase of the JADE project was led by Professor Mike Giles in the Mathematical Institute.

As a whole, the EPSRC funding will not only provide new state-of-the-art computing hardware across a wide range of different technologies, but will support the development of research computing skills, including boosting the careers of Research Software Engineers, across the UK.

EPSRC Executive Chair Professor Dame Lynn Gladden said: “Computation is becoming an ever-more important scientific tool, be it for analysing large data sets generated from experimental work or modelling situations which can’t be replicated in experiments.

“The High Performance Computing services announced today will give researchers access to the tools they need to make breakthroughs in a wide range of fields that impact on how we live our lives.

“These include heterogeneous catalysis – modelling chemical processes which contribute to the production of items used in everyday life - understanding the performance of materials for better batteries for electric vehicles and other energy storage applications, and using advanced computational drug design for therapeutics targeting a large variety of health conditions.”

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