Computationally intensive methods, High Performance Computing (HPC) and High Performance Data Analytics (HPDA), are essential enablers of world class research across most disciplines. N8 CIR is a platform of HPC/HPDA methods, skills and facilities - as Centre of Excellence (CoE) - to underpin the strategic research objectives of the N8 universities: providing a competitive edge by extending the boundaries of the possible. It includes: building communities of practice focused on selected N8 strategic research priorities; developing skills, including building a community of research software engineers; developing shared software infrastructure to support research priorities and cross-cutting capabilities; provision of large-scale shared computational facilities; and integration with the national e-Infrastructure ecosystem. Focus is on accelerating progress in areas of research of strategic importance to the N8 partners. Specifically, it involves the execution of a joint programme of work developed in response to a research roadmap for these themes, where there is opportunity for HPC/HPDA to accelerate progress; building world-class communities of practice around strategic priorities, via workshops, sandpits and roadmap development. The CoE brings together an active community of research software engineers (RSEs) across N8, sharing reusable software, expertise and best practice, and collaborating to provide training to enhance the digital skills of researchers; brokering a programme of placements and secondments to promote the sharing of expertise and the development of digital skills. Opportunities for the development of shared software infrastructure across themes are also sought through the CoE. N8-HPC incorporates the competitive provision of computational resources available across the partnership to HPC and HPDA applications, through both the deployment of facilities and exploration of public cloud: allowing the solution of large-scale problems; providing a stepping stone between local and national facilities; facilitating sharing of skills and expertise; integrated into the national e-Infrastructure as it develops. Its predecessor, N8-HPC was cited as an underpinning resource in grant proposals totalling at least £83m, leading to awards totalling at least £56m - it seems unlikely the same level of funding would have been secured without the competitive advantage conferred by access to the facility and exploitation of synergies across the partnership. The N8 CIR is host to the Northern Intensive Computing Environment, a £3.2M EPSRC Tier-2 HPC facility, located in Durham which serves to extend the boundaries of accelerated computing, such as Machine Learning through its facility 'Bede'.
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