N8 Centre of Excellence in Computationally Intensive Research
The N8 Centre of Excellence in Computationally Intensive Research (N8 CIR) has been established to foster excellence in CIR methods, skills and facilities to reinforce the N8 Universities’ strategic research objectives.
N8 CIR aims to provide a competitive edge to the 8 universities and support enhanced performance by:
- building communities of practice focused on selected N8 strategic research priorities;
- developing skills and building communities of research software engineers and enabling shared learning through shared software infrastructure;
- facilitating the provision of shared high performance computing resources involving N8 partners;
- facilitating access to the national e-Infrastructure ecosystem;
- positioning N8 to leverage future funding for computationally intensive research.
Building on the work of N8 High Performance Computing, the Centre of Excellence seeks to accelerate progress in areas of research that are of strategic importance to the N8 partners, including some that have not made heavy use of technology in the past.
N8 CIR currently supports three thematic areas, each of which reflect both national priorities and areas of strategic importance for some or all N8 partners. They also all represent areas that provide an outstanding opportunity for research innovation through novel application of CIR methods.
The chosen themes are:
- Digital Health
- Digital Humanities
- Machine Learning
In addition, there are people-focussed Research Software Engineer and Research Infrastructure Engineer themes.
Following a series of workshop events across the N8 universities in early 2019, roadmaps have been developed for the first two thematic areas to be prioritised (Digital Health and Digital Humanities). These roadmaps identify key opportunities where N8 CIR could help to accelerate progress within the themes, including skills requirements for researchers.
A follow-up series of events, held over the summer of 2019, helped to identify the range of training expertise that exists within the N8 partnership, what gaps there are in this provision, and how N8 CIR can bring together trainers and researchers to drive innovation and best research practice.
The Machine Learning theme was formally launched at an event in Leeds in November 2022. As with the other two themes, a roadmap identifying areas in which N8 CIR could help to support progress has been developed.
In 2019 N8 CIR was awarded £3.2m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to establish a new Tier 2 High Performing Computing platform in the region. Based at Durham University, Bede (named after the 7-8th century English Benedictine monk who was born and lived in Northumbria) is comprised of 32 IBM Power 9 dual-CPU nodes, each with 4 NVIDIA V100 GPUs and high performance interconnect. This makes it ideally suited to artificial intelligence and deep learning applications.
Since its launch, Bede has helped to accelerate the work of researchers across a range of academic domains, and has supported drug discovery in the global effort to control Covid-19.
Find out more about Bede’s capabilities here.
Dr Gillian Sinclair, N8 CIR Programme Manager
Visit the N8 CIR Website: