Service Description

High Performance Computing refers to the practice of aggregating commodity computers so as to provide a parallel processing environment for solving complex computational problems.

The High performance Computing Service comprises:

  • A tier-3 institutional service, ‘Maxwell’ hosted in the Edward Wright Data Centre:
  • User support on Maxwell, including software support and troubleshooting.
  • We also provide consultancy on access to regional (tier 2) and national (tier 1) facilities, including the EPCC’s Cirrus and Archer systems. These facilities offer the advantages of:
    • Greater capacity and capability.
    • Diversity of architectures (GPU, ARM, Xeon Phi)
    • Training in computational science and software development.


  • Maxwell is a Linux-based high performance compute cluster featuring:
    • Approximately 600 cores
    • 20 standard nodes, with 4 GB RAM per core.
    • 16 high-memory nodes, with 16GB RAM per core
    • 1 very high memory node, with 1TB RAM
  • Support and consultation from experienced support staff.
  • A wide range of free and commercial software.


This service is available to:

  • All registered members of staff, including honorary members of staff.
  • Research postgraduate students when authorised by their supervisor.
  • External (e.g. consultants, visitors, etc.) when collaborating with University Staff.

Service Hours

  • 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, excluding scheduled downtimes.
  • There will be scheduled downtimes - prior warning of a at least a week shall be given, except in exceptional circumstances.

Level of Service

  • The service runs using a queuing algorithm - which is basically first come, first served, but prioritisation is based on the use made in the previous week of the cluster.
  • Support for the service is available through email during normal working hours.
  • The user home directory is backed up. The scratch partition is NOT backed up.
  •  Users are currently restricted to 100 cores at any one time.

Support and Documentation

Request Process

User Responsibility


Where required to support a funded research project, costs for HPC should be included in grant applications. 

Limited free use (up to 1000 core-hours) is available for small projects; unfunded PGR projects, testing or familiarisation with the service, and for those who wish to assess the suitability of the service prior to applying for funding. The costs below reflect what it costs the university to provide this service.

Costs for using Maxwell are as follows:

  • Standard use of the HPCC costs 10p per core-hour of CPU (any nodes).
  • Standard support, including training (½ day) and documentation, is included at no additional charge
  • Additional support, including installation and troubleshooting of bespoke applications, is charged at £350 per day in ¼ day increments.
  • Additional storage beyond the standard allocation is charged at £500 per terabyte including backups, for the duration of the project.

Costs for using Archer and other Tier 2 facilities are available. Please come and talk to us about your requirements so that we can recommend an appropriately sized solution.