Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Dell's Legion Supercomputer

Dell, the computer giant, is extending its low-cost ethos to high-end supercomputers. Yesterday, Dell unveiled a giant machine in London that will strive to uncover cures for cancer and the origins of the universe. Dell’s Legion supercomputer, built for University College London (UCL), will be one of the most powerful in Europe and will be funded by a £3.9 million government grant. It will weigh 21 tonnes and have the power of nearly 3,000 desktop PCs.

The move comes amid burgeoning competition in “mass market” supercomputers. The sector is estimated to be worth more than $10 billion (£4.99 billion) by IDC, the analysts. Estimates put growth at about 20% a year, as researchers harness levels of performance available at prices undreamt of a decade ago. The agreement underpinning the system – designed to foster long-term cooperation between Dell and UCL was signed yesterday by Michael Dell, the group’s chief executive.

Mr Dell said: “Low-cost supercomputing changes the game.” He predicted that machines such as Legion will transform existing “broad brush” treatments of diseases and replace them with bespoke medicines tailored to a patient’s DNA. UCL believes that Legion could presage a time when surgeons in theatre access massively powerful machines in real time. Researchers in UCL’s physics and astronomy department, meanwhile, will perform “the most detailed simulations ever conducted of cold dark matter structure formation” in the universe. UCL said: “This will test our understanding of the origin of galaxies and of gravity itself.”

UCL plans to make Legion accessible to researchers across its faculties. David Price, the chairman of the UCL research computing subcommittee, said. “High-end supercomputing used to be the preserve of an elite few in the academic world, but not anymore.” (source: Timesonline)

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