The Meteorological Office is planning to buy a new Silicon Graphics Cray T3E supercomputer to add to the one it already has, which is the fifth largest computer in the world.
However, the agency is also investigating Open Source alternatives such as Linux Beowulf clusters.
A source close to the project said that a contract to buy another SGI Cray T3E supercomputer was on the cards, but nothing has yet been made official.
Robin Pallister, supercomputing support manager at the Met Office, declined to comment on unannounced plans, but said: "We're always investigating ways of gaining more power."
He noted that the Met Office needs supercomputers for two purposes: numerical weather prediction, which is the day to day processing of weather data for short term forecasts, and climate forecasts, which model the atmosphere, giving trends that look forward up to 100 years in advance to try to predict the effect on the climate of such factors as carbon dioxide emissions.
"We can never get enough detail [for numerical weather prediction]," said Pallister. "Such an enormous amount of power [is required], we can never get enough."
Pallister was more cagey about the Met Office's investigation of alternative supercomputing technologies, but did agree that the Office found Beowulf "interesting".
SGI refused to comment.
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