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Supercomputer retains UK top spot

Edinburgh supercomputer HECToR has again been named the fastest in the UK and among the most powerful in the world.

HECToR XT4 units at the University of Edinburgh

Results of the most recent Top500 listing, which ranks the world’s known supercomputers by their speed, were announced at the International Supercomputing Conference in Hamburg, Germany.

The Top500 listing, compiled by a US and European academic consortium, ranked HECToR, operated by EPCC, as 16th in the world and fourth in Europe.

This position makes it the fastest of the 38 UK supercomputers in the list.

Number one overall was the Jaguar computer, run by the US National Centre for Computational Sciences.

US and Chinese supercomputers dominated the top 10.

Powerful processing

HECToR, High-End Computing Terascale Resources, can do in seconds what would take hours on an ordinary PC.

It can perform at speeds of up to 275 teraflops, or 275 trillion operations per second.

It can store one petabyte, or one trillion Mb, of data, equivalent to about 20 million music tracks.

Housed on the outskirts of Edinburgh, HECToR consists of nearly 44,000 processors occupying a space the size of two tennis courts.

The University of Edinburgh also operates a second supercomputer, ranked 26th on the list.

The University’s supercomputing power exceeds the total supercomputer capability of several countries, among them Canada, Australia, and Sweden.

HECToR at work

Supercomputers like HECToR allow researchers to simulate systems so complex that the calculations would take months or years on a standard PC.

HECToR has made it possible for UK scientists to carry out a wide range of projects including modelling electrical activity in the human heart, better understanding the genetics behind colorectal cancer, simulating turbulence, and helping reduce the noise pollution emitted by aircraft.

HECToR was supplied by Cray, funded by Research Councils UK, and is co-operated by STFC Daresbury and NAG.

HECToR’s top ranking highlights the University of Edinburgh’s commitment to providing world-class computing facilities to UK researchers.

Professor Arthur TrewEPCC