Site Spotlight: EPCC, UK

Site Spotlight: EPCC, UK

Edinburgh at sunset

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland. A picturesque city of about half a million people, known as the “Athens of the North” during the enlightenment due to its classical architecture and intellectual activity, is on the UK tourism map, second only to London, due to its beauty and rich history as well as the many activities available including the Edinburgh festival, the biggest annual international festival in the world, which runs from August to early September. The Old town, confined within the old city walls, and the New town, an early 18th century wonder of town planning, in Edinburgh are designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Edinburgh also hosts four Universities including the University of Edinburgh, established in 1582 – the sixth oldest in the United Kingdom, in which EPCC is based.


Edinburgh Castle

EPCC, originally known as the “Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre”,came into being in the 1990s out of an interest by the Physics department at the University of Edinburgh in Parallel Computing. A number of powerful machines (for that time) had been accumulated to tackle condensed matter and statistical physics as well as Quantum Chromodynamics problems. It was thought that other academics, businesses and manufacturers might benefit from access to and guidance in the use of these types of systems. EPCC was thus established as an institute within the Physics Department to achieve this.

Since then the scope of the institute has grown to look at High Performance and Novel Computing and has worked with many academics, industrial partners including Cray, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, etc to accelerate the effective exploitation of novel computing throughout industry, academia and commerce. EPCC currently consists of about 70 members of staff involved in various academic and industrial projects. Members of EPCC were involved in a number of standards to improve code performance and portability including the first version of MPI, OpenMP and various Grid standards. EPCC currently hosts the current UK national supercomputing service, HECToR, which is part of PRACE.

EPCC will host four students on the Summer of HPC. They will be working on a variety of projects:

During their time at EPCC the students will be mentored by members of EPCC staff and will be fully integrated into EPCC’s life.  They are invited to attend courses and seminars and will participate in the EPCC’s social activities, such as Friday Buns. The students are also planning to present the results of their work at the EPCC seminar at the end of August. We hope they enjoy working with us and getting to know Edinburgh and Scotland.

The Summer of HPC is coordinated at EPCC by David Henty and Irina Nazarova.

David Henty

David Henty

David graduated with a degree in Physics from Imperial College London in 1987, and gained his PhD in Theoretical Physics from Glasgow University in 1990. He spent the next four and a half years doing research in Lattice Field Theory at Edinburgh University before joining EPCC in 1995. David became Project Manager of EPCC’s Academic Research, Training and Support (ARTS) group in 1999, which currently comprises nine staff. He directly manages a wide range of projects which include: the University of Edinburgh HPC Service; EPCC’s MSc in HPC; the UKHEC project, a three-year HPC research collaboration with Daresbury Laboratory and Manchester University.

David’s technical work has included consultancy on code development and optimisation on a wide range of HPC systems including the Cray T3D, T3E and J90, Sun HPC servers, Compaq clusters, Hitachi SR2201, SGI Origin 2000 and Thinking Machines CM200. He teaches on a wide range of EPCC’s technical training courses, including MPI, HPF and OpenMP, and is overall course organiser for EPCC’s MSc in High Performance Computing.

David’s role in Summer of HPC at EPCC is overall coordination and supervision of training.

Irina Nazarova

Irina Nazarova

Irina Nazarova has been working with visitors to EPCC since 1996, first on the TRACS programme and then HPC-Europa. She is also involved in providing front-line helpdesk support to the users of HECToR – UK National Supercomputing Service. Irina organises courses which EPCC are running as part of the PRACE Advanced Training Centre (PATC) Programme and she also participates in PRACE general marketing and  dissemination activities.

Irina’s  role  in Summer of HPC is providing full local support to four students hosted by EPCC.


Text & Photos reproduced by kind permission of Dr Mario Antonioletti with contributions from Irina Nazarova, EPCC © 2013, All rights reserved.


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