Researchers at eight Irish third level institutes today (August 29th 2005) announced that Ireland's first supercomputing centre – the Irish Centre for High End Computing, (ICHEC) will commence operation on Thursday, 1st September 2005.
The centre, which will deliver a national research infrastructure, has been funded through a €2.6 million Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) grant, a €0.7M equipment loan from the HEA PRTLI funded CosmoGrid programme and an equipment loan of €1.2M from TCD's HEA PRTLI funded IITAC programme.
When completed, ICHEC, will address the growing need for computational resources to assist Irish researchers in their work in disciplines as diverse as medical device simulation, marine modelling, bio-informatics, drug discovery, astrophysics and computational chemistry.
High End Computing, also known as 'super computing', uses the most advanced aspects of modern computer science to produce supercomputers capable of many trillions of calculations per second. With this power many physical problems can be simulated on the computer – in silica. For example it is possible in silica to determine how a surgical implant such as a stent will fatigue during its lifetime. Doing this on a computer has clear benefits over measuring the fatigue after it has been put into a patient.
The development of the centre is the first of a three-phase project with the objective of ensuring that Ireland is a leader in high end computing on a per capita basis by 2010. It is expected that the centre will be a major power house for the knowledge based economy, benefiting Universities, SMEs – through its technology transfer work – and multi nationals.
Commenting on the importance of the project, Dr Andrew Shearer, Dept of Information Technology, NUI Galway and Director of ICHEC said, "Ireland's ability to compete for international science projects has been hindered by the lack of computational resources, with no machines in the country making the world's Top 500 Supercomputers list. This centre will transform computational science in Ireland, creating facilities, which will be on a par with those in the rest of Europe.
"Computational science is one of the few areas where Ireland can contribute to 'big' science projects. In the future, we intend that Ireland will be a Centre of Excellence in High End Computing. The ICHEC will also be of immense importance in economic terms, by keeping Ireland competitive and attracting high tech industries to the country. As high end computing can answer almost any question that a researcher in academia or industry would want to ask, the benefits of the ICHEC are endless," he says.
Prof. Luke Drury, Director of CosmoGrid said "The CosmoGrid project is delighted to be part of this exciting development which will significantly enhance our ability to deliver grid-enabled computation as a tool for Irish researchers."
As well as aiding Irish academic research another important aspect of the new centre will be its role in embedding advanced computing methodology into Irish research and through spin off and collaboration, to transfer advanced computing technology and expertise to the Irish economy.
The Irish Centre for High End Computing involves eight partner institutions; NUI Galway, Trinity College, Dublin, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS), UCD, UCC, NUI Maynooth, Dublin City University and the Tyndall Institute.
ICHEC will also have an industrial outreach programme working with those researchers and industries that do not normally have an interest in super computing. In addition, an outreach programme will be developed to encourage second-level students to develop an interest in computational science.