Defining high performance research computing at TCD

Computing plays an active role in our daily lives. Spreadsheets and search engines, email, mobile phones and tablets shape our lives and support the work we do. While we can clearly see the social impact of personal computing, there is a whole other world of technical and research computing that enables advances in science, engineering, medicine and the humanities.

High performance computing (HPC) harnesses the power of hundreds of computers at the same time to tackle a problem that is too complicated to be solved with a single computer and is used in many industries to avoid carrying out expensive or dangerous experiments. Research computing falls in the space between personal computing and HPC.  It facilitates the advancement of complex research and utilises computing services in ways that extend beyond simple spreadsheets and word documents.

 

HPRC in Trinity College

The High Performance and Research Computing unit (HPRC) in IS Services has been providing compute, data management and visualisation services for over 15 years.  Users of this service cover all three faculties, 16 schools and many of the College’s strategic research themes.

We are available to discuss any research and IT topics with students and research staff who may need to avail of HPRC services.  Drop into one of our workshops on the first Friday of every month from 11am to 12pm in the Lloyd Institute to see if we can help your work.


Service and Support for College

HPRC currently manage a range of compute clusters and storage systems for College generally and specific research groups. The Lonsdale and Kelvin computer systems are available for all members of the College community and their external collaborators. In recent times HPRC has become active in supporting the Digital Humanities and several major initiatives are now hosted by the unit including the Irish Chancery Letters, the Mary Martin Diary and the Library’s Digital Collections.

Also in 2012, the team became involved in two new data management projects for the Memory Research Unit in TCIN and the Motor Neurone Research group in the School of Medicine. Along with existing projects with the Prostate Cancer Research Consortium, TCIN’s MRI archive and the IMM, data management and long term storage have become key areas for HPRC over the last few years.


Teaching and Training

Teaching and training courses within HPRC supply research staff and students with a thorough understanding of computational techniques for science, engineering and the humanities.  To this end they provide for-credit teaching at postgraduate level in the School of Mathematics’ MSc in High Performance Computing as well as supervising student research projects.

The unit also provides an intensive week-long course in Risk Quantification as part of the School of Business’ MSc in Finance.

In addition, we hold half-day to week-long training courses on various topics throughout the year. You can find more information on these not-for-credit courses on our training resources page.


Research and Outreach

During the last year the team has been active in its own research in HPC tools and systems. The group were invited to present at the annual SLURM user meeting in Barcelona to users of open source software used in supercomputers. They have also been in discussions with European partners and some commercial organisations on a research programme around digital preservation and long-term storage using the Ceph platform.  Some staff in the unit are funded from external research funding.

The unit regularly hosts interns from other 3rd level institutions in Europe as part of their final year studies. These students have contributed to projects in Physics, Engineering, Finance, the Library and the Digital Repository of Ireland project.

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