An image of the SUMMIT supercomputer located in Oak Ridge, California. NICE will be based on the same computing architecture.

Bede

N8 CIR’s recently-announced supercomputer will be formally known as Bede after the English Benedictine monk who lived in the 7th century.

A genuinely new supercomputer

Bede’s supercomputing namesake will be housed at Durham University. It is comprised of 32 IBM Power 9 dual-CPU nodes, each with 4 NVIDIA V100 GPUs and high performance interconnect. This is the same architecture as the US government’s SUMMIT and SIERRA supercomputers which occupied the top two places in a recently published list of the world’s fastest supercomputers.

Bede will also be the first supercomputer in the UK to make use of
IBM’s Power IC922 server; making use of 6 additional nodes with NVIDIA
T4 Tensor Core GPU Accelerators to improve AI inference.

Bede Hardware

Bede Software

Why Bede?

Bede is recognised as a scholar and historian. His most widely-known work focused on understanding the role and increasing influence of the church in what was then contemporary society. He also produced more scientific writings and was not afraid to challenge the scholars or prevailing wisdom of the time.

Bede wrote his first two books at the age of 28, De Arte Metrica and De Schematibus et Tropis (Metrical Art and On Schemes and Tropes, respectively), and went on to write more than 60 books, the majority of which survive in institutions across the world.

His most well-known work is Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum or An Ecclesiastical History of the English People. This five-volume work chronicles the development of Christianity in England from Caesar’s invasion in 55BC through to Bede’s time, 673 – 735AD.

Other notable, and arguably scientific, works include De temporibus, or On Time and a subsequent work De temporum ratione or On the Reckoning of Time. Across these volumes he explained the effect of the moon on tides and the impact of a spherical planet on the length of the day. His adoption of Dionysius Exiguus’s Anno Domini method of writing dates in these books is also seen as a reason for the popularity of this dating format.

Much of Bede’s writing was in Anglo-Saxon English, rather than Latin as the majority of his contemporary scholars were using; this made his work much more accessible.

Bede died in May 735 and was originally buried at the monastery in Jarrow where he spent most of his life, his body was moved to Durham Cathedral around 1020 before being moved to Galilee Chapel in the 14th century.

Bede was a scholar who was not afraid to challenge the prevailing wisdom, sought to help and educate people through his writings and teachings and his work was reproduced and held in institutions across Europe. With a strong link to Durham, the N8 university where the supercomputer will be housed, there are few better people after whom to name the machine.

Future developments

Delivery of the hardware that make up Bede will begin soon with commissioning and testing following soon after. Alongside this there will be training for RSEs to optimise code for the unique architecture of the system and many more exciting developments.

Keep an eye on our Twitter feed (@N8CIR) for updates or subscribe to our newsletter (https://n8cir.org.uk/contact/) for more in-depth information.

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