Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Speed is everything....

The BBC News Website reports on the latest Supercomputer in use by academics in the UK has been upgraded. Makes my current research for a home PC upgrade look a little insignificant.

Still a long way behind the US based academic stuff & probably a little behind what is sat in an MoD bunker somewhere secret, but all probably a giant leap behind the computing power available to the CIA\US Secret Service.

UK supercomputer sets faster pace

The UK's fastest-proven supercomputer used by the academic community has doubled in size and performance.

The HPCx machine, based in Warrington, is now capable of operating at speeds up to 15.4 teraflops, or 15.4 trillion calculations every second.

The speed boost follows the addition of more than 1,200 processors to the four year-old, IBM-built number-cruncher.

The high-performance machine is used by scientists to simulate everything from ocean currents to biological cells.

The upgrade will allow scientists to run more complex models on the machine. "What we've done throughout the computer's life is to keep the machine abreast of the way that computers are getting faster as a whole," said Professor Arthur Trew, director of the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre which heads the consortium that runs the system. "The problem is that the demand for computational ability always outstrips the machine's ability to deliver it."

When HPCx first came into service in 2002 it was one of the top 10 fastest supercomputers in the world. Despite an upgrade in 2004, it has since slipped to 59th place in the Top 500 supercomputers list.

Although the upgrade will undoubtedly push HPCx up the rankings in the new list, published on 14 November 2007, the UK government and research community have already decided to replace it with a higher spec machine known as Hector.

Hector, or the High-End Computing Terascale Resource, will be owned by the Research Councils of the UK and will start operating in 2007. HPCx is planned to cease working in December 2008. Hector could run at speeds of up to 100 teraflops, 100,000 times faster than an ordinary computer.

However, its normal operating speeds will be far less as supercomputers are only able to achieve their maximum speeds for short bursts of time.

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