The Minister for Research and Innovation, Seán Sherlock TD today (Thursday, 4 July) announced new funding support of €8 million to the Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) which will support 25 top-class computational scientist positions over the next three years. The funding will also allow ICHEC to maintain truly cutting edge high performance computing equipment which will complement Ireland’s ambitions to be a global leader in Big Data/Data Analytics and High-Performance Computing.
ICHEC is hosted by NUI Galway, with the 25 staff based in Galway and Dublin.
ICHEC provides computational and data analytical support for a range of research activities and services across Ireland’s higher education and industry sectors. For example, ICHEC works with partners such as Met Éireann, Tullow Oil and Paddy Power in areas that require expert computational staff to resolve complex business issues. It is also directly involved in European high performance computing activity through the EU supported PRACE programme.
Making the announcement Minister Sherlock said: “As part of the measures contained in the Action Plan for Jobs 2013, the Government has committed to making Ireland a leading country in Europe for Big Data, a sector currently growing at 40% per annum worldwide and in which Ireland has significant competitive advantages.
We are all aware of the massive volume of data being created through the explosion of social media, increased usage of mobile devices and scientific advances in recent years. It seems that 90% of data that now exists has been created in just the last two years or so. This is phenomenal. Governments and industry globally are now presented with major challenges in the management and usefulness of this data – but this also presents significant commercial opportunities too.
We believe that Ireland is in a prime position to lead in the area of Big Data/Data Analytics and High Performance Computing with many large multinationals already located here including Intel, Accenture, Google, Facebook, EMC and Data Direct Networks. However Big Data also needs the computational horsepower and talented personnel to be able to store, analyse and interpret the vast amount of data being generated.”
“The ICHEC team of computational scientists and technologists, which is hosted by NUI Galway, goes some significant way to providing Ireland with this much needed “compute horsepower”, and talented personnel, who can make sense of the data. I am delighted to be able to announce this funding to ICHEC via the Higher Education Authority to sustain this much needed resource. As a direct consequence ICHEC should be able to help with the leveraging of new investments and the creation of quality jobs in Ireland,” Minister Sherlock concluded.
The funding announced by Minister Sherlock is being provided to NUI Galway by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Education and Skills through the Higher Education Authority. It includes an investment of €3.7 million awarded through Science Foundation Ireland’s Infrastructure Programme call in 2012.
Speaking at today’s announcement held at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin, the Chairman of the Higher Education Authority, John Hennessy said: “ICHEC provides a vital service to the higher education and research community through the provision of expert computational staff and high end computing technology to support scientific discovery. This funding will reinforce ICHEC as a national facility to provide a cost effective and efficient means of delivering high-performance computing.”
Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway, said: “NUI Galway is delighted to host this cutting-edge facility on our campus and welcomes the very significant level of investment announced by Minister Sherlock today. As a university engaged in international research in the field of Big Data, we understand well the role played by ICHEC in ensuring organisations maximise the potential of their data collection and analytics. Big Data will transform so many aspects of our everyday lives from healthcare provision to financial services, and high-performance computing is the engine that will power that transformation.”
Professor JC Desplat, ICHEC Director, stated: “The ability to harness novel technologies such as Big Data, Data Analytics and High-Performance Computing will have a dramatic effect on Ireland’s competitiveness. ICHEC is committed to making the high-end expertise of its domain-experts available to industry, the public sector and academia. We anticipate that these partnerships will develop in areas as diverse as biomedical research, materials science, weather forecasting and geophysics.”
There was a significant industry presence at today’s event. Martin Curley, Vice President, Director, Intel Labs Europe, Intel Corp said: “To out-compute is to outcompete. Ireland cannot be the world leader in the high performance in computing but Ireland can be a leader in the application of high performance computing - for example accurately predicting where and when the wind will blow while simultaneously aggregating energy demand requirements so Ireland can optimally use the availability of renewable energy.”
Joe Mongan, Global Manager, Geophysical Technology Group, Tullow Oil, commented: “Tullow Oil welcomes today’s announcement. It further consolidates and enhances our existing advantage to have near-line access to ICHEC’s state-of-the-art, high-performance computing facilities and its highly competent professional staff.”
Pascal Barbolosi, Vice President, EMEA Sales, DataDirect Networks said: “DataDirect Networks (DDN) is delighted to be here today to see continued government investment into ICHEC’s important Big Data and Analytics work in research, education and industry. DDN storage is the backbone of more than two-thirds of the world’s top 100 supercomputers and nearly half of the top 500. This innovative technology is enabling organisations and governments to extract maximum value from their Big Data and Analytics, to accelerate workflows, gain valuable insight, shorten time to discovery and gain a competitive advantage. Therefore, it is important to see continued investment into Big Data and Analytics as this will create business growth and success.”