The University of Portsmouth has installed a Dell supercomputer capable of a billion calculations per second.
The supercomputer, called SCIAMA, has 1008 cores based on 2.66Ghz Intel Xeon processors, which represents the equivalent strength of about 1,000 desktop systems, and is designed to receive, process and present large amounts of astronomical data quickly.
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Each processor core has 2Gbytes of memory. The machine uses 10 Tbytes of NFS-based storage
Researchers at the University's Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG) will use the supercomputer to simulate vast regions of the universe, investigate the properties of hundreds of millions of galaxies and solve complex cosmological problems.
ICG senior specialist technician Gary Burton said: "The huge power of a supercomputer like SCIAMA is necessary to deal with the vast amount of observational data coming from satellites, telescopes and other detectors. Using it will allow us to explore the whole of cosmic history and analyse data that contains fundamental clues about the origins of the universe."
The US Airforce recently announced it had developed a supercomputer based on 1,716 Sony Playstation3 games consoles.