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November 2021 - January 2022

Could Iceland be the best place in the world for high-performance computing?

The case of Wirth Research illustrates a trend towards offloading high-performance computing (HPC) to Iceland. The UK engineering firm began its existence with a focus on motorsports, a passion of founder Nick Wirth. One of the company’s first services was to test the aerodynamics of racing cars and make adjustments accordingly. Wirth started out by using wind tunnels, which was state-of-the-art at the time. But eventually it turned towards running computer simulations, using computer-aided design (CAD) software on workstations connected to a supercomputer, where all the heavy lifting takes place. Over time, Wirth Research applied core competencies developed for motor sports to other markets. It now also models skyscrapers to find ways of reducing the wind load on them, and to optimise airflow so that downward currents don’t make the street below dangerous or uncomfortable for pedestrians. They also carry out work for supermarkets, analysing the flow of air out of refrigerators and installing and configuring devices on the ...

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