Ireland’s AI Center Receives Funding for New ‘Leon’ Supercomputer

By Staff report

June 11, 2020

CeADAR, Ireland’s national center for applied analytics and artificial intelligence, is getting a new supercomputer. The center has received €247,000 (around $280,000 USD) for a new system, named Leon, that will be targeted at assisting Irish industry users, with an emphasis on startups. 

Leon, which is being supplied by Dell, will contain several nodes hosting dual Intel Xeon Gold 6248 CPUs, 768 GB of RAM and four Nvidia Tesla V100 GPUs. “This new high-performance computer will find application across every industry sector and will be used by the widest possible number of companies,” said Edward McDonnell, CeADAR’s director. “The computing platform should be seen as an enabling technology in conjunction with the expertise in the centre in applying cutting-edge AI and analytics methodologies to solve real-world challenges and develop new businesses.”

CeADAR received funding for the new system through Enterprise Ireland’s Capital Equipment Fund, which awarded a total of €6M ($6.8M USD) across 37 grants to dozens of organizations, funding equipment that ranges from meat factory automation tools to ultrasound systems. The Capital Equipment Fund, which is administered through Ireland’s Technology Gateway and Technology Centre Programmes, aims to “provide industry with access to critical, leading-edge equipment and infrastructure which will help them to build resilience and to remain globally competitive, particularly in the face of challenges such as those posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“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,” said Ricardo Simon Carbajo, CeADAR’s head of innovation and development.

On the most recent Top500 list of the world’s most powerful publicly ranked computers, 14 spots are held by Irish supercomputers (which occupy spaces ranging from #303 to #328). These are, however, private systems and are not accessible to researchers, which was described by the Irish Supercomputer List as a “growing cause of concern in the community.” In total, the Irish Supercomputer List tracks 46 supercomputers in Ireland – soon to be 47.

On the Irish supercomputer research front, the Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) completed a series of major global climate simulations on its Kay supercomputer earlier this year. Kay is a 2018 system that uses a combination of Intel-based CPU nodes and Nvidia-based GPU nodes to deliver 665 Linpack teraflops. 

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