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Government backs Europe-beating supercomputer

To the tune of £52m

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The UK project to build Europe's fastest computer has received a cash boost from government. The High-End Computing Terascale Resource, Hector, will get an extra £52m and will be completed next year.

Hector will run at 100 teraflops. Current UK champs at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts will be left wheezing at a sixth of that pace.

Climate simulation and molecular structure problems will be among the Very Hard Sums to be taken on by the new megacalculator.

Announcing the cash injection, science minister Lord Sainsbury said: “The computational limits of the existing facilities are now being reached.”

Existing supercomputing facilities at the Universities of Manchester and Edinburgh are set to be decommissioned over the next two years. The new machine will act as a replacement.

The current IBM-built European champion at Julich Research Centre, Germany, runs at 46 teraflops. IBM needn't worry too much about its world supercomputing crown being usurped by Hector however. Its Blue Gene/L at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California crunches 280 trillion calculations per second, and is thought to be capable of 367 teraflops.

Hector will be owned and operated by the research councils. ®

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