UCL News


UCL in the News: Dell unveils new low-cost supercomputer

18 September 2007

Dell, which made its name selling budget PCs, is extending its low-cost ethos to the world of supercomputing, unveiling a new machine in London that will be used to pioneer research into areas as diverse as personalised cures for cancer and the origins of the universe.

The Legion supercomputer will weigh in at 21 tonnes and have the power of nearly 3,000 desktop PCs. It was unveiled at UCL today by Michael Dell, the company's founder, who resumed the role of chief executive this year.

According to UCL researchers, Legion, which is being built by Dell from industry standard components to cap costs, could presage an age in which medical surgeries each have access to massively powerful machines to run complex calculations to determine the best treatment for individual patients. …

Legion is being built on a "cluster" model, which will harness the power of 2,560 processor cores based on Intel Dual-core technology - now commonly found in laptop machines available on the high street.

Professor David Price, chairman of the UCL Research Computing Sub-Committee, said: "High-end supercomputing used to be the preserve of an elite few in the academic world, but not any more."

The new fields that Legion opens up for research at UCL include the modelling of blood flows through the brains of stroke victims. Using the data gleaned, consultants will test treatments and then alter their prognosis.

Researchers in UCL Physics & Astronomy, meanwhile, will perform the most detailed simulations ever conducted of cold dark matter structure formation in the universe. "This will test our understanding of the origin of galaxies and of gravity itself," UCL said. …

Rhys Blakely, Times Online