Research IT 
Helping you achieve your research outcomes
Welcome to the new look Research IT newsletter! Focused on keeping researchers up to date with news that directly affects research activities including new platforms, training and events, the newsletter is available each month direct to your inbox. You can subscribe to the newsletter using the link below. We also want to hear from you so please send us news stories or events that are of relevance to researchers across the University or details of your research success stories!

Kurt Weideling
Head of Research IT
The next edition of the newsletter will be published in June and distributed only through our subscription list so please ensure you subscribe today.

Research IT News

The launch of Data-Processing Shared Facility


The Data-Processing Shared Facility (DPSF) is now available to early-adopters. The DPSF is a new computational platform (developed from Hydra) which is complementary to the highly-successful Computational Shared Facility (CSF) which has been in production for several years: The DPSF is specified for high-memory and IO-intensive work. The platform comprises:

  • Compute nodes with either 256 GB or 512 GB of RAM;
  • a /scratch filesystem of over 600 TB and, of course, has the same home-directories and research group shared areas as the CSF and other platforms.

Some limited free-at-the-point-of-use computation time is available.


Off-campus access to data-sets from the CSF and DPSF – NATaaS


For important security-related reasons, University of Manchester computational platforms are not accessible directly from outside the campus, nor can UoM platforms directly access Web and FTP sites which are off-campus. Instead Web and FTP downloads are made via the University Web-proxy.  However, some applications cannot use the Web-proxy, including those that access off-site genomics databases as part of the computational work on, for example, The Computational Shared Facility (CSF).

To solve this problem, Research Infrastructure team have introduced a proxy service (more accurately, a network address translation service – NATaaS). Users who wish to download data-sets as part of their computational work should contact the Research Infrastructure Team at

End of University Financial Year Procurements


The University end of financial year is not far away! As usual, Research IT anticipate making a procurement for the Computational Shared Facility (CSF) and other Research Infrastructure platforms at this time.

If you have funds which you would like to be included in this procurement round, please contact Research Infrastructure Team at IMMEDIATELY. The procurement will likely be pushed out at the END OF MAY to ensure hardware is on site and can be paid for in time for July 31.

Help to find the right resources for your research

Research IT have recently launched a new initiative to assist researchers at the University of Manchester – the eResearch platforms partner network.

The network will provide greater clarity and support for researchers who would benefit from using the advanced capabilities of various national and international facilities in the areas of high performance and high throughput computing, advanced data analytics & visualisation and cognitive computing. The partner platforms are in addition to local and regional resources already available to researchers.


Have your say on visualisation tools


We are looking for volunteers to help evaluate a number of general data analytics and visualisation tools to bridge the gap to more specialised software such as MatLab and Python.

The candidate applications are TableauQlikviewSpotfire and IBM Watson Analytics. We need people to use and evaluate 1 or 2 of the applications using their own data sets or one provided by us if you do not have one. As a thank you, Amazon vouchers of £250, £150 and £100 will be awarded to the three best evaluation reports we receive.


eTekkatho – delivering educational resources to Myanmar

The eTekkatho project, a collaboration between the Tekkatho FoundationJISC, the Co-op, and the University of Manchester, is an ongoing service to deliver educational resources to the people of Myanmar.
Research IT has helped to develop the current website and tools for ingesting new materials and provides technical support to the eTekkatho project for both their online and offline versions. We are currently working to automate testing and development, and create faster, leaner sites to deliver the resources over low bandwidth network conditions.

An EU service to help improve performance of parallel software

The EU funded “Performance Optimisation and Productivity (POP) Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Computing Applications” currently provides various services to help improve performance of parallel software, including software written using MPI and OpenMP and for GPUs.


The CSF keeps on growing and growing…


By the time you read this, there will be 96 Infiniband-connected Intel Haswell-based nodes in the Computational Shared Facility (CSF), equivalent to over 2,300 cores. The CSF total core count will be over 8,000.

Upcoming events

Find out more about Jupyter notebooks at the Data Science Club

Registration is now open for the next meeting of the UoM Data Science Club which will take place Thursday the 19th May. The meeting will feature a Big Data “show and tell” from colleagues at the University of Sheffield particularly focusing on their recent experiences of using Jupyter lab notebooks and Sagemath Cloud. There will be several presentations from University of Manchester staff and researchers looking at the use of Jupyter here in Manchester, the announcement of the new Manchester big-data processing platform and much more.


The First Research Software Engineering Conference


Do you develop research software?

The inaugural conference of Research Software Engineers (RSEs) will be held at the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester, UK on 15-16 September 2016. The event will target research software developers and research software engineers at any stage in their career. If you develop research or academic software, or work in a group that provides programming support to researchers, then this meeting will let you meet up with and share ideas with your peers.


Emerging Technology ‘EMiT’ 2016 – Register now


Registration is open for the upcoming third edition of the Emerging Technology ‘EMiT’ conference to be held on the 2nd and 3rd of June 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. Building on the successes of the previous two years, EMiT 2016 aims to continue to provide a platform to discuss cutting edge advancements in emerging computing technologies and techniques. The conference will bring together leading key figures in the emerging computing communities, developers and end users of new software & state-of-the-art hardware, with its untapped capabilities, along with vendors from across the international arena.

2016 Summer Schools – Focus on HPC for Engineering Simulation


Dr Lee Margetts (School of MACE) is leading a 1 week “Engineering Simulation” Summer School at the Hartree Centre (Daresbury Laboratory, Warrington) that focuses on high performance computing for solid mechanics. The school covers a different theme each day:

(1) Open source software for parallel finite element analysis;

(2) Dealing with uncertainty using stochastic methods;

(3) Image-based mesh generation using X-ray tomography data;

(4) Multiscale modelling, coupling grain scale cellular automata to continuum finite elements;

(5) Emerging technologies for simulation.

To register for this course, or others offered by the Hartree Centre, please visit their website.

Other News

Software Sustainability Institute (SSI) survey on citing software


Even though 92% of academics say they use research software and 69% say that their research would not be practical without it[1], it is often the case that software is cited in academic literature in a haphazard fashion – if it is even cited at all.



Research Computing Training University of Manchester Courses

Research IT is running a short series of hands-on training courses which provide skills for researchers to further enhance their research. For information on our courses or other training that we can provide, please take a look at our training catalogue or contact us.

About Us

About Research IT Services

IT Services supports University of Manchester researchers and staff on a wide range of facilities including your own desktop, University owned clusters and externally hosted facilities. If you would like to find out more about the best option for your particular research needs, please contact us or see our website.

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Next edition

The next edition of this newsletter will be circulated at the beginning of June 2016.

If you wish to contribute to the newsletter please contact:
Items received before 25 May 2016 will be included in the next edition. News from academic colleagues and researchers are most welcome.

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