IRELAND'S National Centre for Applied Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence has received State funding for its first dedicated supercomputer to help its member companies engage in big data and artificial intelligence (AI) projects.
The €247,000 computer being provided by Dell will be assembled in a secure data centre at University College Dublin and managed by the centre, known by the acronym CeADAR.
A supercomputer performs at or near the currently highest operational rate for computers.
Traditionally, they have been used for scientific and engineering applications that must handle extremely large databases or high volumes of calculations.
More than 90 firms, as members of CeADAR, use the research facility's expertise and resources to develop their own AI and machine-learning abilities.
But the centre says its new supercomputer, nicknamed Leon, "will bring higher combined processing and storage capabilities under a robust and scalable architecture".
"This will allow the centre to accommodate continuously larger datasets and mainly enable other centres and companies to self-serve and utilise this resource to get quick wins when embracing AI," CeADAR said in a statement.
Engineers at the centre have dubbed the machine Leon because it means lion in Spanish, the nationality of the centre's head of innovation and development, Ricardo Simon Carbajo. He hails from the Spanish city of León.
"CeADAR, as the designated digital innovation hub in Ireland for AI, now has the capability to provide a powerful data science computer platform as a shared resource to our industry members and for collaborative projects at national and European level," Mr Carbajo said.
The centre - which is funded by the IDA and Enterprise Ireland (EI) - was able to purchase the supercomputer using a €247,000 grant from EI's Capital Funding Programme, which helps industry source cutting-edge equipment and infrastructure.
The supercomputer will help member firms to process, model and store vast datasets. It also will support the centre's applied research in AI, machine learning and data analytics. As part of this work its engineers produce prototypes and technology demonstrators to industry partners.
Its partners include Accenture, AIB, AIG, Bank of Ireland, the Central Bank, ClickandGo.com, CPL, Dell, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, Elavon, Ericcson, Fexco, Fidelity Investments, KBC, PwC, RBS, Siemens, SSE Airtricity and Vodafone.
"This new high-performance computer will find application across every industry sector and will be used by the widest possible number of companies," said CeADAR director Edward McDonnell.