IFAB was born in Bologna, in the heart of Data Valley.
Infrastructures, competences and high-performance computing are unique in the world: Emilia-Romagna as an European Big Data valley is, today, a matter of fact.
During these years, the Emilia-Romagna Region became a leader in the field of Big Data as well, with its millennial tradition as a knowledge European centre and with its concentration of knowledge, research and innovation. The core of the majority of the Italian computing and storage capacity is here, the place where a crucial European research hub is located: the Big Data Technopole. Thanks to it, Bologna and its historic university, known as the oldest university in the Western world, are still a fundamental hub for human knowledge.
The choice of Bologna is not random: the “city of the two towers” has a long history related to high performance computing systems. In 1961, the CNEN (now ENEA) decided to set its supercomputing center right in Bologna, activating for the very first time in Italy a system designed for computing, the IBM 704. In 1969, CINECA was founded – a consortium of North-eastern universities, with a CDC 660. In 1988, eventually, the GARR was founded – the national ultrabroadband network dedicated to education and research.
Bologna’s Big Data Technopole will be located on the site of Bologna’s former tobacco factory, an area designed by Pier Luigi Nervi in 1952 and among the biggest industrial architectures of the 20th century. The project of conversion of the area into a large scientific hub of excellence in the field of high-performance computing merges, in 100,000 square metres, research and high-performance computing infrastructures, among the most powerful ones in the world. Here, the ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts) has settled. It is an inter-governative infrastructure, founded in 1975 by 24 Countries. The Centre, which has its headquarters in Reading (UK), develops numerical models for medium-range weather forecasts, and produces and distributes weather forecasts to the founding Countries. In 2017 the ECMWF Council, after a European call for tenders, chose Bologna as venue for the new Data Center, which will use cutting-edge high-performance computers with a 10 times more powerful computing capacity compared to the current ones. The project will be realised thanks to a 62 million euros investment (43.5 by the Ministry of University and Research and 18.5 by the Emilia-Romagna Region).