Dell launches $66m R&D centre to drive innovation in edge computing

American tech giant Dell Technologies officially launched a US$50 million (S$66 million) research and development (R&D) centre here yesterday that will drive innovation in computing near where data is located.

Called edge computing, this emerging technology will take advantage of the roll-out of 5G mobile networks here, said Dell.

Such technology can involve computers or devices like sensors analysing data they collect before uploading selected information or results to a network, called the cloud, to be accessed by users in another location.

Without edge computing, all the data collected may have to be uploaded and processed elsewhere, which can be more costly.

Mr Amit Midha, Dell Technologies' president for the Asia-Pacific and Japan and Global Digital Cities, noted that in the next decade, edge computing is going to dwarf cloud computing, or the delivery of computer services and applications over networks.

When edge computing becomes more mainstream in the next three to five years, Dell's R&D in this space will be driven from Singapore.

"Next-generation innovation will be driven and built from Singapore for the world," he said.

Dell's new R&D centre - dubbed a Global Innovation Hub and one of several in the world - will also focus on making advances in digital transformation and experiences.

Its investment in the hub, which is split between two locations - in International Business Park in Jurong East and Changi Business Park - will also create more than 160 jobs, mostly for Singaporeans, in emerging tech, including for designers, developers and strategists.

Over 75 per cent of the positions have been filled in the last one year, and the PC maker expects to hire the rest by the end of the year.

Besides edge computing, the hub's R&D areas include augmented reality to enhance customer experiences; cyber security to monitor threats and prevent security incidents; digital analytics; and enhancing user experiences.

Another area is cloud-native architecture, or software and systems designed specifically to be deployed over a network, which can be used to support building smart nations and to help modernise a workforce.

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, who launched the Singapore hub yesterday at International Business Park, said that the opening is timely as it complements Singapore's efforts to emerge stronger from the Covid-19 pandemic.

This article first appeared in The Straits Times.