Massive computing power unleashed in UK data centres

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New Microsoft Azure services that make it easier to work with huge amounts of information have been launched in the UK. The G-Series, H-Series and N-Series virtual machines (VM), which allow developers to create multiple copies of their own computer to increase computing power, are now available in the company’s UK South data region. According to Microsoft, it is the first hyperscale cloud provider offering VMs that can run graphics intensive workloads in the UK, as well as the first company to bring graphics processing units to data centres in this country.

The H-Series VM is designed for people working on complex engineering and scientific tasks that feature a lot of data, such as computational fluid dynamics, crash simulations, seismic exploration and weather forecasting simulations. It will allow this work to be done smoothly and quickly, without the lag and slowdown that some computers and virtual machines suffer from. The N-Series VMs are powered by NVIDIA graphics processing units and can run deep learning training jobs, high-performance computer simulations, rendering, real-time data analytics and DNA sequencing. The G-Series VM, on the other hand, is targeted at customers’ ‘most demanding applications’ and offers up to 32 virtual central processing unit (CPU) cores, 448 gigabytes of memory, and 6.14 terabytes of local Solid State Drive (SSD) space.

City of Hope, an independent research and treatment centre for cancer, diabetes, and other life-threatening diseases in Duarte, California, is using Azure NC VMs and high-performance computing to bring together physical and computer sciences, as well as mathematics, to develop ground-breaking methods to model biological processes. Professor Nagarajan Vaidehi, from the centre’s Department of Molecular Immunology, and her team were able to use Microsoft’s cloud services to study the dynamics of proteins in just a few days, compared with a month using traditional CPU-based machines. This made the drug design much more efficient.

Microsoft opened its UK data centres in September last year. Since then, thousands of customers, including the Ministry of Defence, the Met Police, parts of the NHS and Centrica, have signed up to take advantage of the sites.

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