May BEAR Newsletter

May newsletter images
Left: GPU's for our Tier 2 HPC System, Baskerville. Centre: Baskerville being built. Right: New tape library capable of holding 14PB of data.

Welcome to the BEAR Newsletter, bringing you the latest news from the BEAR team (Birmingham Environment for Academic Research), as well as other relevant computing and data-related news from both within the University of Birmingham and outside.



The BEAR team is busy preparing for the launch of Baskerville with the installation of cutting-edge new hardware. We also have a brand new tape library capable of backing up 14PB of research data - that's nearly 3 million DVDs worth! If you’re interested in updates, see our Twitter account for details and pictures!

In this newsletter we cover:

  • BlueBEAR update
  • BEAR Champions recruitment
  • 2021 BEAR Conference
  • MATLAB training
  • Virtual BEAR drop-in sessions

BlueBEAR update

During the maintenance window on 8th/9thApril, BlueBEAR was upgraded to RedHat 8, with over 6000 applications installed for this new operating system. This was a significant undertaking by the BEAR team, involving much planning and preparation. 

For most, this upgrade did not cause an issue and we've been working on fixing the issues reported to us. However, we do have some outstanding issues:

  • ABAQUS – the old versions are available using compatibility singularity method. We're working on installing 2021 on RedHat 8 and we'll update when that is available.
  • ANSYS and ANSYS EM – the old versions are available using compatibility singularity method. We're working on installing 2021R1 on RedHat 8, which also requires changes to the license server, and should be available mid-May.
  • POWER9 – these are not currently available due to a kernel bug causing nodes to hang. We are awaiting a software update to fix this issue.

BEAR Champions Recruitment

Just a reminder that we are currently accepting applications to become a BEAR Champion and join our expanding team of volunteers (closing date June 30th). Our BEAR Champions help spread the word about BEAR Services in their area – they have found the scheme to be beneficial to themselves, their research and group/area. For more details see our blog post: Join our BEAR Champions team.

2021 BEAR Conference

Planning for this year’s 11th conference is underway, with a committee gathering to organise an exciting event. Watch this space for a date and more details as they are confirmed. More information can be found on our conference blog post.

MATLAB training

The MATLAB Technical Education Webinar Series 2021 is aimed at staff involved in teaching MATLAB. Some of the topics covered are MATLAB Grader and Learning Management Systems, Teaching Programming with MATLAB, and Teaching Calculus with MATLAB.  Sessions are scheduled up to August 2021. Registration is free and multiple webinars can be attended.

Virtual BEAR Drop-in Sessions 

We are running our virtual drop-in sessions via Zoom as it allows us to create breakout rooms to discuss particular questions face-to-face. You can use these sessions to find out more about BEAR in general and the advanced research computing facilities we provide or we can answer specific questions e.g. running jobs on BlueBEAR, using the BlueBEAR portal or how to use BEAR DataShare. 

Current dates are listed here and below:

  • Monday 10th May 13:30-14:30
  • Thursday 27th May 11:00-12:00

To join the drop-in sessions, email and we will send you the Zoom link and instructions on joining. Please let us know the topic of your query, so we can find the most suitable BEAR team member to speak to you.


Professional Services