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FCT, UMinho and UTAustin sign protocol for the creation of Minho Advanced Computing Centre


The installation of the first supercomputer in Portugal, along with the creation of the Minho Advanced Computing Centre (MAAC) is formalized this Saturday, November 25, through the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), the University of Texas at Austin (UTAustin) and the University of Minho (UMinho). The session will take place from 11am to 12:30pm at the General Library of UMinho at the Gualtar Campus in Braga.

The signing will take place during a session attended by the Minister of Science, Technology, and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor, the President of FCT, Paulo Ferrão, the President of the Northern Regional Coordination Commission, Fernando Freire de Sousa, and the outgoing Rector and the elected Rector of the University of Minho, António Cunha and Rui Vieira de Castro, respectively, as well as by researchers, entrepreneurs, and several representatives of scientific institutions and companies.

This new computing infrastructure includes twenty racks of the STAMPEDE 1 advanced computing platform, provided to FCT by the Texas Advanced Computing Centre (TACC) of UTAustin under the International Partnership between the University of Texas at Austin and Portugal, allowing the development of new computing areas in Portugal, as well as several scientific and business applications in areas such as climate, maritime safety, support to fisheries, monitoring of mobility patterns in cities, stimulation of biodiversity, risk management in forests and health applications, including bioinformatics.

Among other potential applications, this computing infrastructure will serve the AIR Centre, recently created by the "Florianopolis Declaration", signed on June 20 by Portugal in close international cooperation. The MACC will serve as the basis for the establishment of the "AIR CENTRE DATA INTELLIGENCE NETWORK (AIR_DataNet)" network , to be developed during 2018 together with the Texas Advanced Computing Centre (TACC) at UTAustin and the Barcelona Supercomputer Centre (BSC), among other international partners involved in the AIR Centre, in order to facilitate the development of data science and applications to climate-ocean interaction. 

This new infrastructure is also part of the national effort underway in the scope of the National Initiative for Digital Competencies e.2030 (INCoDe.2030) which, under the coordination of the FCT, includes the stimulation of new R&D activities in the areas of scientific computing, quantum sciences and technologies, artificial intelligence, and digital media.

Also in this scope, Portugal was one of the signatory countries of the European Declaration for the Advancement of Advanced Computing, EuroHPC, on March 23, 2017 in Rome, through which it aims to establish the intergovernmental framework to develop and operate the next generation of European advanced computing infrastructure.

The new infrastructure, owned by FCT, will be installed in the 1st quarter of 2018 at the University of Minho, complementing the existing resources in the regions of Lisbon and Tagus Valley and Center. Its operation will be fully integrated in the national, European and international networks in fully open access modes, facilitating the adoption of the National Open Science Strategy. The management of this new infrastructure is the responsibility of a Committee of experts, including users, coordinated by the FCT Advanced Computing Services.