Queen’s – Trinity link up to provide leading-edge computing facility

Posted on: 10 March 1998

A major new link-up between Queen’s University Belfast and Trinity College Dublin was launched today (Tuesday 10th March 1998). The Centre for Supercomputing in Ireland is a joint initiative by both universities which will promote world-class research in both institutions and encourage collaboration between research groups and industry throughout Ireland.

An IBM SP-2 supercomputer has been installed at Queen’s. The machine, the largest such academic computer in Ireland and among the first 100 in Europe, will be under the joint management of the two universities. Usage time will be shared equally, with Trinity researchers having 24-hour access by high-speed data links. The cost of the installation, around £1.4 million, was raised equally by the two universities.

Funding for research will also total more than £1 million. Funds have come from both Queen’s and Trinity, supplemented by private donations and grants from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the European Union.

Supercomputing technology, which enables several parts of a computing process to be tacked simultaneously, has applications for a number of industries and service areas. These include automotive and pharmaceutical manufacturing, and textiles, medical imaging, acoustics, virtual environments, fluids, aerodynamics, films, traffic management, financial modelling, animal breeding, fisheries and agriculture.

Welcoming the establishment of the Centre, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor George Bain said: “The importance of supercomputing is increasingly being recognised by industry. The launch of this new initiative between Queen’s and Trinity, both of which have distinguished track records in this area, underlines our commitment to research and the concept of technology transfer for the benefit of the wider community.

“Indeed, I am delighted to note that Queen’s and Trinity have also obtained European Commission funding to establish a TTN (a Technology Transfer Node) to promote the transfer of supercomputing technology into commercial and industrial projects.”

“This new venture, both in terms of promoting first-class research and enhancing industrial competitiveness, will be of benefit to the Irish economy, both north and south.”

The Provost of Trinity, Dr Thomas Mitchell, pointed out the importance of the Centre’s development in helping to address the current shortage of highly-skilled IT graduates.

“Trinity’s annual output of IT graduates has increased by 200 and their skills include training in high-performance computing. Currently both Trinity and Queen’s are working to promote the numbers of PhD students making use of high-performance computing technology across a broad range of disciplines; the lessons learned from this leading-edge research will, in turn, percolate down into undergraduate programmes and increase skill levels still further.”