Firms in Britain and US access to super-computers

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BUSINESSES in Britain and the United States are to be given access to super-computers for research and development (R&D) work following a deal between the two countries’ governments.

UK science minister David Willetts hailed the agreement as a “huge step forward” for developing tools to detect diseases and predict climate change.

Under the partnership, British researchers will gain access to “Vulcan”, a super-computer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California that is three times faster than the most-powerful machine in the UK, which is housed at the Hartree Centre near Warrington.

Willetts said: “The partnership between the Hartree Centre and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a significant development.

“It will greatly speed up the innovation of products and services to help us address complex challenges such as climate prediction and disease detection. This is a huge step forward in the ‘big data’ revolution. It will increase the capability of both centres, allowing them to harness the power of high-performance computing.”

John Womersley, chief executive of the UK government’s Science & Technology Facilities Council, (STFC) added: “One of our goals is to bridge the gap between science and industry. The agreement will help us exploit the full potential of high-performance computing for the UK – from basic research through R&D to new product design.”

In June, Nvidia – one of the largest computer chip developers – sealed a deal with the STFC to develop the next generation of super-computers.