Ireland's most powerful computer launched at NUI Galway

Tuesday, 9 October 2001

Release date: 8 October, 2001

Ireland s most powerful computer launched at NUI Galway

Mr. Noel Treacy, T.D., Minister for Science and Technology launched a £1million Supercomputer facility in NUI, Galway today (Monday 8 October). The 40 processor Silicon Graphics (SGI) Origin 3800 Supercomputer, will perform computationally intensive calculations for the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science, which is based on the Galway campus. Its peak performance of 40 billion calculations per second makes it the most powerful computer in Ireland.

The Supercomputer will help in the design of better medical instruments, the understanding of the chemical behaviour of drugs and carry out improved simulations of blood-flow and enhanced X-rays. Research in all of these areas are currently being carried out in NUI, Galway. The work is a good example of inter-disciplinary research involving scientists and engineers from a number disciplines in the University.

Researchers at the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science will use the high performance computer in a broad range of research projects in the area of biomechanics. These include the simulation of blood flow in the heart; heat flow and heat loss from patients during surgery; insertion of angioplasty catheters; and the deformation and remodelling of bone subject to physiological loads.

Blood flow patterns through critical cardiovascular elements such as heart valves, coronary bypass grafts and surgical implants will be investigated and visualised using sophisticated computational fluid dynamics (CFD) techniques. CFD will be used to facilitate design improvements of novel biomedical engineering concepts for artificial heart components - mechanical pumps and valves. CFD will also be applied to pulmonary flows, to calculate the performance of artificial respirators and drug delivery systems.

Astronomers from NUI, Galway have established an international reputation and have developed ways of improving X-ray images. These improved images will allow radiologists to identify illness earlier. In particular, researchers are studying how these improved images can be used to detect small fractures in bones. In the future these techniques can be used in basic science, medicine and industry. Possible applications include flaw detection in manufacturing processes and security cameras. All of these processes require substantial computing power, which will now be provided by the new supercomputer.

Ends

Information from: Máire Mhic Uidhir, Press Officer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091 750418 Dr. Andrew Shearer, NUI, Galway. Tel. 091 524411, Ext. 3114

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