Durham University plays a starring role in computational cosmology

Building a powerful and efficient cluster for big data research projects with IBM System x iDataPlex

Published on 15 May 2013

The IBM Platform Computing software is more stable and user-friendly than our old open source software. One of our objectives is to sell HPC capacity to business customers, and we feel that these tools will put us in a better position to deliver professional levels of service.

Dr Lydia Heck, Senior Computer Manager, Institute for Computational Cosmology, Durham University

Durham University


Deployment country
United Kingdom



Established in 2002, Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology (ICC) has become a leading international centre for research into the origin and evolution of the universe, using high-performance computing (HPC) clusters to simulate cosmological events and answer some of the most fundamental questions in science: What were the first objects in the Universe? How do galaxies form? What is the nature of dark matter and dark energy? Where does the large-scale structure of the universe come from? What is the fate of the Universe?

Business need
To maintain the UK’s high standing in fields such as cosmology, Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology (ICC) needed the ability to handle big data research projects.

The ICC created COSMA5 – a cluster built on IBM® System x® iDataPlex® and IBM Platform Computing software, which is capable of processing huge data-sets to simulate the formation of structure in the universe and solve problems in many other fields.

Runs four times as fast as earlier clusters, enabling more sophisticated simulations. Operates at over 90 percent efficiency. Requires just 1.2 watts of electricity in the data centre per watt utilised by the cluster.


IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

General Parallel File System, Platform LSF, Platform MPI, Tivoli Storage Manager

System x, System x: iDataPlex, System x: iDataPlex dx360 M4,

Technical Computing, Business Resiliency, Energy Efficiency, General Parallel File System (GPFS), High Availability

Legal information


Join the Conversation


TwitterGoogle YouTube