“Bob”: Portugal’s first supercomputer inaugurated in Famalicão

Bob is the name chosen for the country’s first ‘supercomputer’: a system that can run at 10 times national computing capacity and is the mainstay of the newly-inaugurated Minho Advanced Computing Centre (MACC) – an adjunct of the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).

Located within the REN (electricity network) data centre, Bob’s mission is to “encourage scientific and business cooperation in data science and artificial intelligence” said a statement released by FCT last Friday.

The computer’s siting will enable it to work ‘most of the time’ with renewable energy sources: wind, solar and hydroelectric.

Says the Minho’s region’s local paper ‘O Minho’, “part” of Bob’s infrastructure was provided by the University of Texas under a partnership deal that also involves Spanish supercomputer MareNostrum – one of the most powerful supercomputers in Europe, with “the greatest capacity in the world”.

Pre-publicising Bob’s arrival last year, the Ministry of Science said the computer joins the advanced Iberian computation network designed for research in bioinformatics, climate, maritime safety, fisheries, mobility in cities and forest fire risk management.

Bob’s main function will be to process data coming from the AIR Centre, on the Azorian island of Terceira – which according to O Minho involves several countries and studies the climate, space and oceans.

A second supercomputer with the much-more impressive name of Deucalion will be following Bob in 2022.

Deucalion, said a statement from the FCT, will be capable of running 10 billion transactions per second, meaning it will actually have 40 times Bob’s capacity for calculation.

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