UKs supercomputer speeds into action

Britain’s most powerful supercomputer has received a £52m boost from the government.

The computer is planned to be ready by 2007, and should be faster than any other in Europe and six times faster than any machine like it in the UK.

Lord Sainsbury, science minister, announced that the government was providing financial backing to the HECToR (High-End Computing Terascale Resource) project.

Lord Sainsbury said, “HECToR is an ambitious plan to build a supercomputer for the UK’s scientists to use in their cutting-edge research. When built, it will be capable of 100 teraflops, six times more powerful than the UK’s current supercomputers making it powerful enough to simulate climate systems and extremely detailed atomic structures.”

“HECToR will be an indispensable tool for scientists across the entire breadth of the UK research base,” said Lord Sainsbury in a statement.

“The computational limits of the existing facilities are now being reached as new and increasingly complex research programmes place increasing demands on the computing power available. It is imperative that our scientists are able to access the best possible computer facilities to build on, and support, the work they do in the laboratory,” Lord Sainsbury said.

Currently sitting in the top spot is the IBM BlueGene/L system in the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) California. It has recently been ‘upgraded’ to double its original size and has achieved a performance rating of 280.6 teraflops, being the first supercomputer to exceed the 100-teraflop mark.

Hectors project manager Jennifer Houghton said, “The HECToR project is not about building a bigger or better computer, but to help scientists design computer programs that can run on such a powerful system. The challenge of a big system like HECToR is being able to utilise its full capability.”

HECToR will be built and managed by the Research Council, UK.