Wales becomes supercomputing player

Swansea University has collaborated with IBM to build a supercomputer that it claims will be one of the fastest in the world dedicated to life sciences research

The Welsh Assembly is putting supercomputing at the heart of a multi-million pound science and computing department announced last week.

The facility, called the Institute of Life Science, is based at Swansea University and will receive £50m funding from the Assembly. It will house a supercomputer named Blue C that will be used for medical research.

Blue C has an average speed of 1.7 teraflops and a maximum speed of 2.7 teraflops, which the Assembly claims makes it one of the top supercomputers in the life sciences field. It has already been built in collaboration with IBM and is currently being tested at a laboratory in Cheshire, according to a spokesman from the Welsh Assembly.

"Designed to accelerate ILS programmes, 'Blue C' will be one of the fastest computers in the world dedicated to life sciences research," said the assembly in a statement.

This speed is likely to put it in the Top500 supercomputers list. The list is topped by IBM's Blue Gene/L supercomputer at the US Department of Energy, which has a top speed of 70 teraflops.

Construction work on the Institute of Life Science is due to start in spring and will be completed within 18 months. The spokesman for the Welsh Assembly said he expects the supercomputer will be moved to the university before construction is completed.

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