Advanced Research Computing


UCL Research Computing and Networking Innovation Centre

RCNIC runs projects to evaluate, prove and incubate new technologies, which may become future IT services for researchers.

The Research Computing and Networking Innovation Centre (RCNIC) aims to help with the adoption of new technologies across UCL’s research computing facilities. It runs projects to evaluate, prove and incubate new technologies, which may be deployed into live service. It has two closely related objectives:

  • To develop and share new knowledge and insight into leading edge research computing technologies
  • To accelerate their reliable deployment into UCL’s production environment

RCNIC is a collaboration between the Research Computing teams within UCL Advanced Research Computing, ISD,  digital research professionals and researchers based in other departments. It is funded by external grants and UCL’s Digital Transformation Investment which it is overseen by ARC and the Digital Research Group.

RCNIC Online Launch

The RCNIC launched on 3rd April 2020, and the content of the launch even can be found below.

  • Prof Phil Luthert: Welcome and introduction (starting at 00:00)
  • Prof Jonathan Tennyson: Introducing UCL Research Computing and Networking Innovation Centre (starting at 4:31 mins)
  • Dr Owain Kenway: UCL Interconnect and Adaptable Cluster Project (starting at 12:29 mins)
  • Dr Jeremy Yates: UKRI ExCALIBUR Hardware and Enabling Software Programme (starting at 20:52 mins)
  • Discussion (starting at 33:28 min)

Watch the video!

Overview Presentation


    Interconnect Testing and Developing: the adaptable cluster  

    PI Steve Hailes (UCL Computer Science), Owain Kenway, Tristan Clark (UCL ARC) (£400K)

    • This ExCALBUR Interconnect Demonstrator consists of two non-blocking interconnect fabrics supporting up to 60 attached nodes in a dual fabric configuration. One fabric is 200 Gbps HDR Mellanox Infiniband and the other is 100 Gbps Mellanox Ethernet.
    • UCL is the location of the ExCALIBUR instance of the ARM FORGE Application. This is an application that supports the debugging, profiling and optimisation of codes that use distributed resources, such as a cluster. It is both CPU and GPU enabled. UCL will support ARM FORGE for key centres in the ExCALIBUR project. It will also be available to UCL projects that are not associated with ExCALIBUR.  

    Field-programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) and Exascale Computing

    PI Serge Guillas (UCL Statistics), with Warwick and EPCC (£200K)

    • This test bed is aimed at allowing researchers to port their scientific and data-scence applications to FGPAs and to explore performance and power advantage of the technology. 

    Metadata Automation: Exploring metadata uplift and quality through automation

    PI Jon Johnson (IOE - Social Sciences) (£20K).

    • Structured metadata allows description of the data lifecycle, that can be actioned by machines and made available for analysts to be assured that they are looking at data that is trustworthy and can be combined in a meaningful way. However, we don't live in a world where data providers or data collectors are well versed in or incentivised to produce good quality structured metadata.  We believe a new approach can assist data providers, collectors and managers in enhancing data with this vital information. We are in the enviable position of having a large resource of questionnaires which can be used as a training dataset for a range of machine learning approaches. Our initial work will focus on understanding the strengths and weaknesses of both the different approaches and of our underlying datasets to inform a discussion of how we can move towards higher levels of automation of metadata capture.