This story, found on Silicon.com, really appeals to the geekishnes in me. Hector, High-End Computing Terascale Resource [what happened to the 'o'?] , can handle 63 trillion calculations per second, which is the equivalent processing power of 12,000 desktop systems. The supercomputer is based at the University of Edinburgh’s Advanced Computer Facility and operated by the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC). The sort of work that Hector will do includes forecasting the impact of climate change, projecting the spread of disease epidemics and developing new medicines. For those of us who are self-employed, though, the name Hector brings to mind the bowler hatted cartoon character that the UK Inland Revenue used in their adverts to exhort us to get our self-assessment tax forms and payments in on time.
Now for the serious techie stuff: Hector uses a Cray XT4 system with software and application support provided by NAG; Hector has a peak capability of 63 Teraflops but this is due to increase to 250 Teraflops in October 2009, with a further upgrade due two years later. Now you know:-)
On a global scale, though, Hector comes in at number 17. The TOP500 Supercomputing Sites lists the … erm … top 500 supercomputing sites. The November 2007 list is at http://www.top500.org/list/2007/11/100.