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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 February 2007, 00:04 GMT
Edinburgh site for super-computer
Edinburgh University
Hector will be based at Edinburgh University
One of the most advanced super-computers in the UK is to be sited at Edinburgh University.

The 113m machine, Hector (High End Computing Terascale Resources), will be used for solving complex problems by researchers across the country.

It will cover the size of two tennis courts and be capable of 60 million million calculations a second.

It will enable scientists to develop life-saving drugs and model everything from climate change to epidemics.

With the performance of about 14,000 desktop PCs, it will also be used to design new materials and attempt to answer questions about the evolution of the universe.

Hector is critical for UK scientists to compete internationally
Prof Arthur Trew
Edinburgh University

Academics from across Britain will be able to remotely access the system, which will be operated on site by Edinburgh University's Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC).

The American-built computer is three times faster than HPCX, the existing super-computer used for academic research which is also run by the EPCC.

Hector will be installed in October and should last until 2014.

The signing of the contract for the computer, which is being supplied by US firm Cray Inc, is due to take place at Edinburgh University on Thursday.

Project director Professor Arthur Trew said: "Traditionally progress in science has been made through theory and experiment, but an increasing range of problems now require to be simulated computationally.

"Hector is critical for UK scientists to compete internationally. We are delighted that EPCC has again been chosen to manage this facility.

"The choice of Edinburgh demonstrates the university's leadership in the field."

Climate change

The super computer, which has a memory of 35,000 GB and disk storage of 700,000 GB, will enable British scientists to carry out highly complex and varied research.

It will help medical experts to develop new drugs by simulating the action of organs such as the heart.

Meteorologists will use it to forecast climate change, while nano-scientists will be able to study how the smallest particles interact.

The system will also help cosmologists model the way the universe develops; maritime experts simulate global ocean currents; epidemiologists project how diseases spread; and aeronautics experts simulate the way air flows off aircraft.

The computer is being paid for by the government-funded UK Research Councils, which has a 2.8bn annual budget to boost British academic study.

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