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12 July 2010

Information Services director Martyn Harrow and ARCCA director Professor Martyn Guest by the ARCCA supercomputerInformation Services director Martyn Harrow and ARCCA director Professor Martyn Guest by the ARCCA supercomputer

An all-Wales University supercomputing collaboration designed to boost the Welsh economy and give access to some of the most advanced computer technology and skills has been officially launched.

High Performance Computing Wales (HPC Wales) is a £40M pan-Wales University project designed to give businesses working independently or in collaboration with academics access to advanced research computing capability.

Within the proposed "Hub and Spoke" model, with major dual-hubs at Cardiff and Swansea, the University's Advanced Research Computing @Cardiff (ARCCA) will provide the gateway for researchers at the University to access HPC Wales, facilitating links to Universities across the region.

Over the lifetime of the five-year project it’s hoped it will create up to 400 jobs, improve Wales’ economic performance, business competitiveness and increase the research and performance of Welsh universities.

Professor Martyn Guest, Director of ARCCA said: "HPC Wales represents another important step in the provision and support of advanced research computing capabilities to both researchers and their industrial collaborators across Wales. It is also an important landmark in the development of ARCCA and the support it brings to computationally-based research throughout the University.

"While the technology injection associated with the Project may grab the headlines, just as important is the range of related opportunities – skills-development activities, internships, training packages and support services – all designed to enhance workforce skills and to strengthen links between HPC Wales and Welsh industry."

Officially launching HPC Wales, Deputy First Minister and Minister for the Economy and Transport, Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "HPC Wales would play a key role in delivering our Economic Renewal Programme (ERP).

"One key objective of ERP is to adjust our £240M economic development budget so that it's focused more on developing the right skills for our workforce and to encourage world-class research and development – which mirrors the objectives of HPC Wales."

High performance computing is computational activity requiring more than one computer to execute a task to solve advanced computational problems – for example, simulations, modelling and performing rapid mathematical calculations.

The University's Advanced Research Computing @Cardiff is already helping to support a series of key business research collaborations.

Working with industrial collaborators in Dow Chemicals, Exxon Mobil, Johnson Matthey and SASOL (South Africa), researchers from the School of Chemistry are using supercomputing to help reduce the experimental effort used in producing the next generation of cleaner, and energy efficient catalytic materials.

In collaboration with industrial partners at Shell, the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences are using supercomputing to combine seismic tomography, plate motion history, Earth mantle circulation modelling and lithosphere modelling to better understand plate motion history and the role of the Earth’s mantle.

School of Engineering researchers are developing numerical models for predicting the hydrodynamic and water quality models for river, estuarine and coastal waters, working in partnership with industrial and academic partners - Arup, Halcrow and HR Wallingford; Environmental Agency

The School of Dentistry is also involved in a wide area of multidisciplinary research such as biomechanics, cell mechanics, orthopaedics, dental mechanics, soft tissue models, medical imaging including clinical simulation procedures.

Lesley Griffiths, Deputy Minister for Science, Innovation and Skills with the Welsh Assembly Government. "High performance computing or super computing, as it is known, will put Wales right up there as an international player in the world of computational research.

"The distributed nature and scale of the project, plus the open access to business, makes it unique in its scale, nature and ambition. Priority will be given to research projects that have direct economic benefit and impact to ensure HPC Wales drives forward the knowledge based economy and unlocks specific barriers to growth."

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