Below is a chronological account of the Name Our Computer project highlighting its successes and outputs.
[13th November 2013] Minister Seán Sherlock TD, Minister for Research and Innovation announced Ireland’s latest supercomputer called Fionn at the Dunsink Observatory on 13th November 2013. The name, chosen by Oscar O’Donoghue, a student from DCU CoderDojo, stems from Fionnachtana (Irish for Discovery) and Fionn mac Cumhaill. It aptly reflects the size of the new machine and the new R&D that it will enable.
Presenting the prize for the winning submission in ICHEC's Name Our Computer competition, Minister Sherlock commented: "Oscar's competition entry aptly reflects the versatility of the new ICHEC machine and the scope of the R&D that it will enable, while simultaneously placing it firmly within an Irish context."
An investment of over €3.7M supported by Government through Science Foundation Ireland and €450k from industry, Fionn, a hybrid machine capable of running many different applications and workflows, quadrupled computing resources previously available to scientists in Ireland. Fionn will enable researchers to solve their scientific and industry-related problems quicker by scaling out and scaling up their R&D. Fionn will enable all domains of science from nano material discovery and medical device development to weather forecasting and renewable energy. It is also designed to solve the Big Data challenges of today that require large computing power and large amounts of RAM and storage.
Access to data processing power on the scale that the new supercomputer will provide is essential if Ireland is to realise its ambitions in the area of Big Data. The sector is growing by 40% annually and presents a real opportunity for Ireland to leverage the requirements of convergent industries and the capabilities of academia through partnerships that will help create high value jobs. The analytical capability that resources like this new supercomputer will provide can help position Ireland as an international hub for Big Data research.Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of SFI
Fionn is a parallel machine and it is imperative that Ireland produces people with skills to harness this computing power. To this end ICHEC launched its inaugural coding competition aimed at promoting parallel programming. The challenge was set to take image processing computer code and make it run in parallel to take advantage of modern multi core processors. The Minister presented the winning prize to Maciej Goszczycki who met the challenge and showed great skill in completing it. Maciej regularly attends the TCD Science Gallery CoderDojo in Dublin.
The whole CoderDojo community is thrilled Maciej's achievement in winning the challenge, which was no trivial matter and it is a fine Irish name that has been chosen full of meaning and yet matching the CoderDojo ethos of "Be Cool!" We look forward to other CoderDojo young people also gaining insights into the world of coding for modern parallel supercomputers.Bill Liao, CoderDojo Founder
Fionn is made up of four components: Thin, Hybrid, Fat and Service nodes with over 8,400 compute cores and 24TBs of RAM. The new machine will run non-stop for the next four years. It will provide an estimated 295,000,000 hours of computation not counting the power of the accelerators! Fionn provides access to the latest technology from Intel, Ivy Bridge processors along with Xeon Phi coprocessors, coupled to high performance storage from DataDirect Networks (DDN), to researchers across Ireland.
Supercomputers are the key to innovation and development. Our new national supercomputer, named Fionn, is being launched today and we are pleased to bring this new supercomputer to Ireland’s innovators. We look forward to supporting the new breakthroughs that this piece of national infrastructure will enable across academia and industry.Prof. JC Desplat, ICHEC Director
The supercomputer was purchased from SGI (CA, USA. NASDAQ: SGI) with the storage provided by DDN (CA, USA. EMEA headquarters in Dublin, Ireland). Fionn is installed at the TSSG data centre in Waterford Institute of Technology. ICHEC manages its operation and access is granted through a peer review process run by the ICHEC Science Council.
ICHEC is providing the computing resources and expertise to the Irish academic and industrial research community to develop the large scale simulations required to tackle fundamental scientific questions and to advance engineering design; often these scientific and engineering questions are intertwined. ICHEC's initiatives to engage young students by opening windows on high performance computing helps ensure that Ireland's next generation of researchers will be well aware of the modern computing technologies at their disposal that will support them in solving future challenges.Prof. Jim Greer, Head of Tyndall Graduate Studies, Tyndall Institute and Chairman of the ICHEC Science Council
[September/October 2013] The new supercomputer was installed during September/October 2013. The naming competition closed at the end of September while the coding competition closed at the end of October.
[6th September 2013] The future of computing and software development is multi- and many-core programming. Today’s computer chips are little faster than 5 years ago and to counter this manufactures are packing more cores within processors to give the impression of improved speed. These additional cores allow for multitasking and other compute intensive operations. To efficiently harness these additional cores on modern CPUs (e.g. the latest Intel Xeon processors have up to 12 cores) requires software developers to have skills in parallel programming. It is paramount that these skills are introduced to students as early as possible to ensure Ireland has software developers with skills to tackle the problems of tomorrow that will undoubtedly require use of highly parallel machines.
To program in parallel you need to think in parallel and we hope to see examples of great code from young minds that are not entrenched in the traditional serial approach that is increasingly a limiting factor be it on a mobile phone or supercomputer. Dr. Michael Browne, ICHEC Technical Manager
To promote the concept of high performance computing and parallel programming in particular, ICHEC launched a coding competition in association with CoderDojo called "Are you a Super Coder?" on 6th September 2013. The competition funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Discover Science & Engineering was open to all primary and secondary level students in Ireland. The challenge for the students was to implement photography filters commonly found in modern photo editing software. The first was a mirroring effect where a new image is created such that the right hand side is a mirror of the left. The second is a little more involved and distorts the image using a predefined algorithm. The site introduced image processing by providing code to convert colour images into grayscale and also apply a Gaussian blur. The site also highlighted good software development skills with the use of Makefiles, requirements of documentation and the idea of keeping code simple and maintainable. Further details of the competition can be found here.
CoderDojo is delighted that Irish ninja code kids will be able to get the opportunity to work with the new Irish supercomputer as big data processing is a core technology for all our future and present benefit. Bill Liao, CoderDojo Co-founder
[2th September 2013] On the 2th September 2013 ICHEC launched the competition to find a name for Ireland’s latest supercomputer. The competition was aimed at primary and secondary students of Irish schools. A new website, was created to introduce the world of supercomputing to the general public with a short video, commissioned for its launch. Previously, names of Ireland’s supercomputers were named after famous scientists that were either born or worked in Ireland. It was time to open the naming process to the public as the utility of supercomputing can be widely seen. Weather forecasting, F1 racing, car/airplane design, and social media to name just a few all rely on supercomputers.
The new machine quadrupled the computing resources previously available to scientists in Ireland, besides providing access to the latest technology from Intel, Ivy Bridge processors along with Xeon Phi coprocessors, coupled to high performance storage from DataDirect Networks (DDN), to researchers across Ireland.
A wide range of new research and development will be enabled on the new machine. These will include an increased resolution in weather and climate forecasting, larger and longer simulations for research in areas such as medical device development, nanotechnology, genomics, drug design, etc. The machine will also be capable of running heterogeneous workflows that require large compute power and large amounts of memory either during the pre- or post-processing phases of researchers work. In other words this machine will be able to solve the Big Data problems of today.
The machine is an investment of over €4M euro and was funded by primarily Science Foundation Ireland. The supercomputer is a hybrid machine capable of running many different applications and workflows. The machine is made up of four components: Thin, Hybrid, Fat and Service nodes with over 8,400 compute cores and 24TBs of RAM. The new machine will run non-stop for the next four years. It will provide an estimated 295,000,000 hours of computation not counting the power of the accelerators!!
[1th September 2013] After working with ThinkVisual during June and July a 3-min video called "Supercomputing by ICHEC" was produced.
[18th July 2013] During June and July the competition web sites were developed. A holding page was placed online to ensure the competition.
[26th June 2013] After submitting an outreach project proposal to Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Discover Science & Engineering in early 2013 with notification of its success coming in June 2013. The project set out to introduce supercomputing to primary and secondary students by holding a naming competition for the new supercomputer expected to arrive in September 2013. This meant a three month period was only available to run the competition and announce the name.
This project would not have been possible without the support of SFI Discover Science and Engineering.