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Monday, 22 July, 2002, 18:56 GMT 19:56 UK
Supercomputer to tackle tough tasks
Professor Malcolm Atkinson
It will be managed by the Edinburgh e-Science centre
A new 53m supercomputer will allow scientists to tackle tasks that have been impossible previously, according a top computer expert.

Europe's most powerful academic computer will be operated by the National e-Science Centre (NeSC), which is based at Edinburgh University.

The computer, which will actually be sited at the research council laboratories at Daresbury in Cheshire, is part of the UK Government's commitment to place Britain at the forefront of developments in e-science.

It will be connected to "The Grid", a network of computers which can share resources to give scientists undreamed-of number-crunching power.


If you need to get a large amount of data into the computer, and then need the program to access that randomly, you cannot do that efficiently by sending backwards and forwards across a network

Prof Malcolm Atkinson
On Monday, the NeSC unveiled a blueprint for the evolution of Grid - which has been dubbed internet mark two.

The announcement came as more than 1,000 computer experts from all over the world met in Edinburgh for the 5th Global Grid Forum - the first time the event has been held outside the US.

The NeSC hopes the Grid will allow vast computing resources around the world to be harnessed and shared to tackle some of the biggest challenges in medicine, physics, astronomy and engineering.

However, according to NeSC director Prof Malcolm Atkinson there are some problems that can only be done on a large supercomputer.

He said: "If you need to get a large amount of data into the computer, and then need the program to access that randomly, you cannot do that efficiently by sending backwards and forwards across a network. It would be far too slow."

Large complex computer models such as simulating air flows around an aircraft during flights or tracking the possibility of earthquakes are seen as potential uses for the computer.

Other examples are more accurate modelling of the interaction between drugs and biological molecules for pharmaceutical research.

The supercomputer will begin work in September, with an initial processing capability of 3 teraflops but this will rise to 12 teraflops (12 million million operations per second) by 2006.

See also:

22 Jul 02 | Scotland
22 Jul 02 | Scotland
25 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
03 Apr 01 | Health
27 Jul 01 | Scotland
02 Aug 01 | Science/Nature
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