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The high-performance computing (HPC) and big data research capabilities of the European Union-backed Supercomputing Wales university consortium have been boosted by a new partnership with IT giants Atos and Dell EMC.
The companies have agreed to supply the consortium’s founding universities – Swansea, Aberystwyth, Cardiff and Bangor – with access to a full suite of HPC equipment, supercomputing appliances, and cloud-based simulation software to aid their collective research efforts.
This, in turn, will support research projects the group are currently involved with in the areas of energy and environment, life sciences and health, engineering, nano-materials and the digital economy.
Supercomputing Wales’ academic director, Roger Whitaker, told Computer Weekly that the technology will help research teams to “undertake simulations, modelling and visualisation of complex problems through software”.
He added: “Supercomputing facilities crunch through massively complex scientific problems that enable discoveries and advances that have the potential to change our lives.”
Cardiff University intends to use the technology to improve cancer diagnosis, while Swansea will draw on it to improve weather forecasting and inform its climate analysis work.
Aberystwyth, meanwhile, will use it to underpin its research into DNA sequencing for plant breeding, and Bangor is drawing on the capabilities to carry out oceanographic analysis.
Whitaker said these research areas offer the most potential for funding and collaboration with international companies, which could open up job opportunities in the future.
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“The focus of the Supercomputing Wales programme is on supporting and accelerating academic research capacity within the partner universities,” he said.
“The aim is to increase the amount of external research investment into Wales in areas of science that can be enhanced by access to supercomputing resources.
“All these research areas also offer significant opportunity for collaboration with the private sector, potentially increasing employment opportunities and supporting economic regeneration in the knowledge economy in Wales.
“Supercomputing Wales has already directly employed around 20 staff, including highly skilled research software engineering [RSEs], specialist technical staff and project administration and management staff.”
Also under its partnership with Atos and Dell EMC, Supercomputing Wales will provide training workshops for its RSEs and will promote research case studies from the four universities, said Whitaker.
“Further developing the skills and knowledge of the RSEs will assist us in delivering a unique national technological asset that is crucial to underpin our scientific excellence in Wales,” he added.