The UK Research Council's National Supercomputing Service has placed an order with SGI for one of the most powerful Altix 3000 superclusters that the company has ever built.
The service, a consortium made up of Computer Sciences Corporation, SGI and the University of Manchester, the UK Research Council provides scientific computational facilities on behalf of several UK research councils.
These include the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council, and represent over 500 of the leading scientists in the UK.
The UK Research Council will use the 256 Intel Itanium 2 processor supercomputer to power its Computer Services for Academic Research service centring on applications such as molecular modelling for the pharmaceuticals industry and climate prediction and monitoring.
The decision to purchase the Altix 3000 supercluster was based on its ability to support complex data manipulation at high speed using the Intel Itanium 2's ultrahigh processing power.
The consortium's infrastructure already includes a 512-processor SGI Origin 3000 server supported by a storage area network, providing high-performance access to large quantities of data.
It will form part of an 18-month extension to a six-year supercomputing service contract awarded to the consortium in 1998 by the EPSRC.
"The UK Research Councils are committed to maintaining a strong position among the world leaders in computational science and engineering," said John O'Reilly, chief executive at the EPSRC.
"This initiative adds to our strategic framework for high-end computing, allowing us to enhance this reputation."
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