The government is giving £52m to a project to build one of the world's fastest supercomputers in the UK.
Lord Sainsbury, science minister, announced last Friday that the government was providing financial backing to the HECToR (High-End Computing Terascale Resource) project.
HECToR is an ambitious plan to build a supercomputer for Britain's scientists to use in their cutting-edge research. When built, it will be capable of 100 teraflops — six times more powerful than the UK's current supercomputers, and making it powerful enough to simulate climate systems and extremely detailed atomic structures.
"HECToR will be an indispensable tool for scientists across the entire breadth of the UK research base," said Lord Sainsbury in a statement.
"The computational limits of the existing facilities are now being reached as new and increasingly complex research programmes place increasing demands on the computing power available. It is imperative that our scientists are able to access the best possible computer facilities to build on, and support, the work they do in the laboratory."
HECToR will be built and managed by the Research Councils of the UK.
The world's fastest supercomputer is Blue Gene/L, based at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, with a top speed of 367 teraflops.
At present, Europe's most powerful supercomputer is based at the Jülich Research Center in Germany and is capable of 45.6 teraflops. But given the pace of development in the supercomputing world, there's no guarantee that HECToR will be Europe's fastest supercomputer when it launches in 2007.