A member of the Sinn Féin political party has criticized the Irish government for failing to acquire a new supercomputer.

Louise O'Reilly, Teachta Dála (TD) and spokesperson for Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, O'Reilly has drawn attention to the importance of having a national supercomputer.

Kay supercomputer located at the ICHEC – ICHEC

"High performance computing (HPC) is at the core of the fifth industrial revolution and central to growing the Irish economy and securing next-generation foreign direct investment," she said.

Ireland previously had a supercomputer, named Kay, that was hosted by the Irish Centre for High End Computing (ICHEC) at University of Galway. Previously used by academics, industry, state agencies, and government departments to solve complex problems, Kay was decommissioned in November 2023.

O'Reilly claims that the government had plenty of opportunity to avoid ending up without access to HPC capabilities.

“Despite advanced warning that the national supercomputer would become obsolete, and a new supercomputer – from approval to tender, to build, to installation and configuration – would take around three years to deliver, the Minister for Higher Education, the Minister for Enterprise, and government have done nothing and there is still no indication when the purchase of a new supercomputer will be actioned," said O'Reilly.

Until a new supercomputer is purchased, Irish organizations will either have to turn to a national supercomputer owned by another country or use the private sector.

O'Reilly added: "The failure by the government to invest in this critical infrastructure has embarrassed Ireland in the eyes of the European and international technology community, and it will no doubt cost us the next generation of talent and affect Ireland’s ability to attract the FDI of the future in knowledge-intensive sectors such as digitization, Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and quantum computing.”

Kay was installed in August 2018 and, according to the ICHEC, had 665 teraflops of computing power.

According to O'Reilly, a national supercomputer for Ireland would also be co-financed through the EU European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU). The EuroHPC JU announced in June 2022 that it had selected five sites to host the "next generation" of supercomputers, among which Ireland was included.

In that announcement, Ireland was set to get a supercomputer called CASPIr which would also be hosted at the ICHEC, with EuroHPC providing up to 35 percent of the funding.

Details surrounding the expected timeline of this supercomputer have not been shared, though it is described as being as much as 25 times more powerful than Kay.

DCD has contacted the ICHEC to see if there are any progress updates on CASPIr.