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Last Updated: Monday, 14 January 2008, 11:27 GMT
Computer brings science up a gear
Hector project manager Jennifer Houghton with the system
Hector project manager Jennifer Houghton with the system

One of the largest and most powerful computers in the country has been unveiled in Edinburgh.

Hector (High End Computing Terascale Resources) is capable of 63 million million calculations a second and is four times faster than its predecessor.

It represents the equivalent of approximately 12,000 desktop systems.

The 113m project will run for six years and will enable scientists to develop life-saving drugs and model climate change and epidemic patterns.

Adding the power of supercomputing simulation to the route of exploration and discovery has moved science to another level
Edinburgh University spokesman

Researchers said it was hoped Hector would play a "key role" in keeping scientists at the forefront of their fields of research.

The supercomputer is based at the Edinburgh University's advanced computing facility and is funded by the UK Research Councils.

An Edinburgh University spokesman said: "Adding the power of supercomputing simulation to the route of exploration and discovery has moved science to another level.

"Hector continues this process by taking high-performance computing up yet another gear."

Sub-atomic particle

He added: "It will provide UK researchers with the means to undertake increasingly complex computer simulations across a range of scientific disciplines.

"This will include work in forecasting the impact of climate change, fluctuations in ocean currents, projecting the spread of epidemics, designing new materials and developing new medicinal drugs."

The group manager at Edinburgh University's parallel computing centre, Dr David Henty, told Radio Scotland Hector would keep British scientists at the cutting edge.

He said: "There are still the traditional branches of science which are theory and experiment, theory using a pen and paper to work out what you think will happen and experiments using telescopes and things like that.

"Nowadays, a new strand is to write computer programs to simulate things that are as small as a sub-atomic particle, through to things that are as big as the whole universe. It really can do whatever you want it to do."

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