The HECToR Service is now closed and has been superceded by ARCHER.

University signs contract for supercomputer

Friday 22nd February 2007

A multi-million pound contract for a huge computer system which will benefit academic research across the whole of the UK is to be signed by staff from the University of Edinburgh today (Thursday February 22nd).

HECToR (High End Computing Terascale Resources) is a vast computing facility worth £113m over six years. The computer will be made by the American supercomputer company, Cray Inc. It has been paid for by the UK Research Councils and will be installed at the University's Advanced Computing Facility (ACF) on the Edinburgh Technopole estate in Midlothian. It will start work in October this year and is planned to last for six years.

EPCC (Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre) at the University of Edinburgh will direct and operate the facility. EPCC's director, Professor Arthur Trew, said:

"Traditionally progress in science has been made through theory and experiment, but an increasing range of problems now require to be simulated computationally. Examples range from climate modelling to design of new materials; from understanding sub-nuclear particles to the evolution of the Universe.

"HECToR is critical for UK scientists to compete internationally. We are delighted that EPCC has again been chosen to manage this facility. The choice of Edinburgh demonstrates the University's leadership in the field."

The Edinburgh-based super computer will provide UK scientists with the means to undertake increasingly complex research across a wide variety of projects, including:

Aeronautics: simulating the way air interacts with aircraft wings or helicopter blades.
Materials science: simulating the behaviour of materials by modelling the way their atoms interact
Physics: including atomic physics and the physics of very hot materials
Chemistry and Biochemistry: the behaviour of complex molecules and the ways they interact
Medical applications: simulating the action of the heart, for example
Particle physics: modelling the interactions of the smallest particles of matter
Epidemiology: how diseases spread and die out
Cosmology: modelling the way the universe develops
Ocean modelling: simulating ocean currents round the world
Meteorology: long-range forecasting and climate change
Nanoscience: science and technology at the microscopic level
Disasters: simulating disasters and emergency response

The signing of the contract will take place on Thursday February 22nd in the Talbot Rice Gallery, University of Edinburgh, Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh at 12.30pm.


For further information contact Professor Arthur Trew. Telephone: 0131 650 5025.

HECToR website:


1) UoE HPCX Ltd is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the University of Edinburgh. With the signing of the HECToR agreement it holds the contracts to provide both the UK's national supercomputer services for academia. Its success is based on that of EPCC (Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre) - a computational science research and technology transfer institute within the University. Founded in 1990, EPCC's mission is to accelerate the effective exploitation of novel computing solutions throughout academia, industry and commerce. Today, EPCC is the leading computational science technology transfer centre in Europe.
Further information:

2) The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the managing agent on behalf of all Research Councils (RCs) for the procurement of a new high-end computing facility for use by UK academic users. This service, called HECToR, is due to start in October 2007 and will have an initial theoretical peak capability of 60 Tflop/s, increasing to approximately 250 Tflop/s peak in October 2009 with a further upgrade planned for October 2011.
Further information:

3) The University of Edinburgh
Established in 1583, the University of Edinburgh is one of the UK’s most important and historic Higher Education institutions. World renowned for its research and teaching, it is a member of the prestigious Russell Group, an association of the UK’s 20 major research intensive universities. Student numbers currently stand at over 24,000 and the University employs more than 7,000 staff.
Further information:

4) About Cray Inc.
As a global leader in supercomputing, Cray provides highly advanced supercomputers and world-class services and support to government, industry and academia. Cray technology enables scientists and engineers to achieve remarkable breakthroughs by accelerating performance, improving efficiency and extending the capabilities of their most demanding applications. Cray's Adaptive Supercomputing vision will result in innovative next-generation products that integrate diverse processing technologies into a unified architecture, allowing customers to surpass today's limitations and meeting the market's continued demand for realized performance. Go to for more information.