Boris pays a visit to UK’s most powerful supercomputer

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits The University of Edinburgh to see the UK’s National Supercomputer, met by Professor Mark Parsons, EPCC Director. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the University of Edinburgh to see the UK’s National Supercomputer today (14th February 2022).

ARCHER2 – which stands for ‘Advanced Research Computing High End Resource’ – a £79 million machine funded by the UK government is based at the University of Edinburgh and constructed of 5860 nodes, each with two AMD processors containing 64 cores.

The machine is one of the world’s fastest computers based on central processing units (CPUs) rather than graphics cards, which can excel at certain problems such as modelling volcanic plumes and breakthrough medical treatments for conditions such as HIV and arthritis.

Its predecessor, the ARCHER supercomputer, was due to be replaced in early 2020, but was kept running to work on covid-19. It finally switched off in May 2020 having tackled everything from fluid dynamics in aircraft engines to wind simulations of the North Sea.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits The University of Edinburgh to see the UK’s National Supercomputer, met by Professor Mark Parsons, EPCC Director. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street
 

The Prime Minister was met by Professor Mark Parsons, EPCC Director who showed Mr Johnson some of the scientific work ARCHER2 was doing.

Scientists are able to use supercomputing systems to model, visualise and analyse large systems, or process large amounts of data across many different scientific fields, including chemistry, physics, materials science, climate science and biomedical sciences.

Professor Mark Parsons explained ARCHER2 can be used for most tasks requiring large amounts of computational power, particularly tightly-coupled parallel problems.

A strong advocate for investing into British science, the Prime Minister has said on many occasions he wants the UK to regain its status as a science superpower. Mr Johnson recently wrote in the Telegraph:

“I cannot think of a time in the last 100 years when the entire population of this country has been so deeply and so obviously indebted to science – and to scientists.”

He continued:

“We want the UK to regain its status as a science superpower, and in so doing to level up. The UK has so many of the necessary ingredients: the academic base (four of the world’s top ten universities), a culture of innovation, the amazing data resource of the NHS, the capital markets.

“What we are offering now is record funding combined with the strongest possible political support and backing for science and a clear indication of where government sees greatest need.

“Of course we must generously fund pure science. We must allow for serendipity. You cannot plot or plan every breakthrough. But you can certainly set out to restore Britain’s place as a scientific superpower – while simultaneously driving economic prosperity and addressing the great challenges we face – and that is the plan of the government.”

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