New Irish supercomputing centre launched as part of EU initiative

3 Sep 2020

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Activities at Ireland’s new high performance computing competence centre will include an SME accelerator to enable the adoption of new technology to improve business processes.

On Wednesday (2 September), the Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) launched Ireland’s EuroHPC Competence Centre as part of the EuroHPC joint undertaking.

The new centre is hosted at ICHEC, where the Irish high-performance computing authority analyses complex data to provide intelligent solutions to deliver effective policy change.

The beginning of September marked the official start of a pan-European initiative agreed upon by the European Council in 2018, to invest in creating a European network of national high-performance computing (HPC) competence centres.

The project, EuroCC, is funded by the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking and will run for a two-year period with a total budget of €57m.

Ireland’s HPC competence centre

According to the ICHEC, the activities at the new centre will include an academic flagship to accelerate the preparedness of researchers seeking access to the European supercomputing network; and an SME accelerator programme to enable the adoption of new technology to improve business processes.

The centre’s computer scientists will also support next generation performance engineering for both the academic flagship and SME accelerator programmes.

EuroHPC encompasses 33 participating European states and is being coordinated by the Gauss Centre for Supercomputing (GCS) at the Stuttgart’s high-performance computing centre, HLRS.

The 33 nations involved will build a sustainable and globally competitive HPC ecosystem to serve research and science in academia while also supporting industries in European member states, with a particular focus on encouraging small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to turn to and benefit from the advantages of HPC.

Prof JC Desplat, director of ICHEC, said: “This is a Europe-wide approach to HPC investment by facilitating closer coordination of all participating states in the realms of infrastructure, technology development, and the development of advanced software.

“Ireland, through ICHEC, will gain access for researchers and SMEs to a coordinated, integrated, high level of expertise across Europe in high-performance computing and related disciplines for science and industry, such as high-performance data analytics, classical simulation and artificial intelligence.”

The EuroHPC joint undertaking was established in November 2018 and will remain operational until the end of 2026.

The cooperation could be crucial for the EU’s independence in the data economy, as industry in the EU currently consumes more than 33pc of supercomputing resources worldwide, but supplies only 5pc of resources.

Dr Elise Jennings, senior computational scientist at ICHEC, added: “This is an exciting opportunity for Ireland to take a central role in defining the European HPC ecosystem envisioned by the EuroHPC joint undertaking. With the launch of the new competence centre at ICHEC, we are proud to bring our HPC expertise to the EuroCC network.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic