November BEAR Newsletter

IceLake nodes_sm
10,000 Intel "IceLake" cores take up just 2 racks with efficient direct to node warm water cooling

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.

This month we are pleased to be able to release the new IceLake compute nodes for our HPC-system BlueBEAR – have a read below to find out the new statistics for BlueBEAR. We have details on an opportunity to join the team as a permanent Research Software Engineer(s), plus notification about an upcoming maintenance window and new dates for training workshops. 

In this newsletter we cover:

  • New IceLake cores available for BlueBEAR
  • Research Software Engineer post(s)
  • Maintenance Period – 14th December
  • Training Workshop Dates
  • NVIDIA Baskerville AI Session Recording
  • Drop-in sessions

New Intel IceLake cores available for BlueBEAR

Due to the new Intel “IceLake” cores becoming available, BlueBEAR now consists of 20,168 compute cores including 4432 new IceLake cores for general, shared use and 5,296 of the IceLake compute cores being dedicated to Life Sciences use (see information on CaStLeS). Luckily, the new compute cores have become available just when BlueBEAR is experiencing its highest peak usage so far with 9,672 cores recorded as being active on 10/11/21 - this is 2,000 cores greater than in February of this year!

We’re always interested to hear how you are using BlueBEAR to enable your research, so if you have any case studies to share then please do email us at

Research Software Engineer post(s)

We currently have an exciting job opportunity within the Advanced Research Computing (ARC) team for a permanent Senior Research Software Engineer(s). Varied and challenging work in a supportive, helpful and collaborative environment with regular training and mentoring. There is the potential to appoint to an additional post if there is more than one suitable candidate for the role. Find out more and apply here: (closing date 21st November). 

To find out more about working as a Research Software Engineer within ARC, have a read of Ryan’s blog post.

Maintenance Period – 14th December

On Tuesday 14th December, the University has an IT Major Maintenance window. During this period, the BEAR team will be undertaking upgrades of a number of key systems and services and migrating some of the network links from our old to new networks. Further details will follow, however all BEAR services should be considered "at risk" on this day and there will be periods of time when services are not available.

Training Workshop Dates

We have scheduled additional training courses as listed below, for full details and booking links visit our website:

Software Carpentry – Python: 30th November & 1st December AM (attend both days)

Introduction to Linux: 2nd December AM

Introduction to BlueBEAR: 8th December AM

NVIDIA Baskerville AI Session Recording 

For anyone unable to attend the AI session on Baskerville delivered by NVIDIA recently, the recording is now available via the following link:  

As part of the launch of the new Baskerville Tier 2 AI Supercomputer, this session included lots of examples of what can be achieved using the many tools and GPU accelerated frameworks available to researchers for a broad range of applications in deep learning, data science and deployment of AI-based applications.

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 migrate from BEAR DataShare.

Current dates are listed here and below:

  • Friday 19th November 10-11am
  • Thursday 25th November 1.30-2.30pm
  • Friday 3rd December 10.30-11.30am
  • Tuesday 7th December 11-12
  • Monday 13th December 1.30-2.30pm

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.

Missed last month's newsletter?

Find October's newsletter here.


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