Isca phase 2 - so what happens next?


We thought it was important to let the Isca HPC user community know what will happen in Phase 2 of the HPC Project.  So here’s an update on where we are and the plan for next few months. 

Isca HPC Phase 1 is now an established part of the Advanced Research Compute (ARC) landscape.  Isca has been operating well and continues to provide a valuable resource to academic communities within the University of Exeter.

From the outset the Isca HPC facility was designed to provide a variety of compute resources:

  • The traditional cluster - 94 nodes, with another 40 lent out to facilitate ongoing EU funded projects
  • The MRC traditional cluster with higher memory nodes – 92 nodes
  • Openstack for the management of virtualised resources
  • Specialist nodes for GPU, Phi and high memory evaluation

Isca has proved popular with the advanced research community and there continues to be a strong demand for traditional resources.  However, take up of the Openstack environment remains patchy.  Further work is needed to communicate and demonstrate the capabilities across the range of HPC compute functionality.  

Isca phase 2

The HPC Project has now moved into Phase 2 which consists of two key elements:

  • The migration of Isca Phase 1 HPC facilities from the pod into the newly commissioned Laver Data Centre (LDC) environment.
  • The procurement of additional nodes to expand the existing service.

Isca phase 2 migration

The migration of the existing Isca HPC facility from the pod to LDC will commence 26th

June 2017.  The LDC Project Completion date is 7th June and, therefore, initial preparatory work is planned to start on the 14th June.  The Phase 2 Migration work will be undertaken largely by our supply partner, OCF.  Existing research data will be backed up prior to commencement of the Migration phase.

  • Disruption to HPC services

The HPC Phase 2 project will seek to minimise disruption to the existing HPC service.  However, a loss of service during migration from the pod to LDC is inevitable.  The HPC can only be decanted from the pod node by node due to space and doorway restrictions.  Additionally the logistical challenge of moving the equipment through into the Laver Data Centre is not being underestimated.  Whilst OCF have mitigated this by engaging expert logisticians, the possibility of encountering the unexpected cannot be entirely ruled out. 

It is anticipated that the Phase 2 Migration will take four weeks commencing 26th June and completing 21st July.  During that time please be patient and appreciate that this break in service, whilst not welcomed, is an inevitability of the circumstances we face.  On a more positive note, after the completion of the migration and setting to work (over a thousand cables have to be re-connected!), Isca will have a permanent home and a significant capacity to expand from the existing 6 racks of compute nodes.  During the migration, Zen and Zeus will remain available.

  • Phase 2 Procurement

The HPC Project has already produced a Phase 2 Procurement Proposal based on demand data gathered over the past 12 months or so.  This data has been collated, tested and is due to be considered by the HPC Project Board.

  • Contact information

For further information, please get in touch with:

HPC Project Manager is Kevin Carpenter and he can be contacted on:


Phone: 01392 725683