Ireland unveils supercomputing centre

High end on the South Side

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A new 'supercomputing' centre aims to address the growing need among Ireland's researchers for computational resources The Irish Centre for High End Computing (ICHEC), which will be based in Dublin, is set to begin operations on 1 September, thanks to a €2.6m Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) grant.

The centre also received a €0.7 million equipment loan from the HEA PRTLI-funded CosmoGrid programme and an equipment loan of €1.2 million from Trinity College Dublin's HEA PRTLI-funded IITAC programme.

Eight third level educational institutions are involved in the centre - NUI Galway, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS), UCD, UCC, NUI Maynooth, Dublin City University and the Tyndall Institute.

High End Computing, also known as "supercomputing," uses the most advanced aspects of modern computer science to produce supercomputers capable of many trillions of calculations per second. Supercomputers are typically used for calculation-intensive tasks such as climate research, molecular modelling, physical simulations and cryptanalysis.

The ICHEC will help Irish researchers in their work in disciplines such as medical device simulation, marine modelling, bio-informatics, drug discovery, astrophysics and computational chemistry.

"This centre will transform computational science in Ireland, creating facilities which will be on a par with those in the rest of Europe," said Dr Andrew Shearer of NUI Galway's Department of Information Technology and the Director of ICHEC. "Computational science is one of the few areas where Ireland can contribute to 'big' science projects.

Previously Ireland's lack of supercomputing facilities meant that the country was overlooked for international science projects, according to Dr Shearer, who said that the ICHEC will help Ireland to be more competitive and continue to attract high-tech industries to the country.

As well as benefiting Irish researchers and the economy, ICHEC is expected to become a major powerhouse in the knowledge economy, benefiting universities, SMEs - through its technology transfer work - and multinationals.

In addition the centre will have an industrial outreach programme to work with researchers in industries that would typically not have an interest in supercomputing. Furthermore, another programme will be developed to encourage second level students to become more interested in computer science. The ultimate aim of the centre is to make Ireland a leader in supercomputing on a per capita basis by 2010.

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