Construction work is soon to commence on the UK Daresbury Lab campus supercomputer center in Halton, Cheshire.

The £30 million ($36m) supercomputing center is being built as part of the £210m ($252m) Hartree National Center for Digital Innovation (HNCDI), a collaborative program with IBM to help businesses gain skills, knowledge, and technical capability to adopt new digital technologies, such as supercomputing, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence.

The program has been funded by the Government’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and IBM, with the companies investing £172m ($206m) and £38m ($46m) respectively.

Approved late last year, the new single-story Daresbury Lab supercomputing center will cover 33,000sq ft (3070 sqm), and with all the preparatory and planning work done, construction is expected to start any day now.

– Daresbury Laboratory

The supercomputer will be used to continue the previous research conducted at the lab, which covers the accelerator science, bio-medicine, physics, chemistry, materials, engineering, and computational science fields and has helped create new cancer therapies and cleaner fuel and energy.

The Hartree Centre, located at Daresbury Laboratory, is one of the UK’s only supercomputing centers dedicated to industry applications meaning that businesses can access specialist expertise and HPC that isn’t normally accessible outside of large-scale industries and academia.

STFC’s Kate Royse, director of the Hartree Centre, said: “Here at the Hartree Centre we are fully committed to providing an environment where UK science and businesses of all sizes can be at the very forefront of global research and development in the very latest digital technologies, such as AI and quantum computing.

“Providing access to these technologies and support enables businesses to reduce risk, increase productivity and achieve success, to the benefit of our economy, both here in the North West and nationally.”

The development is expected to replace an existing supercomputing center at DSIC that was described as no longer fit for modern-day purposes.

Daresbury Laboratory was opened in 1962 as the Daresbury Nuclear Physics Laboratory. It carries out research in fields such as accelerator science, bio-medicine, physics, chemistry, materials, engineering, and computational science.

As well as being home to a number of electron accelerators, the site is home to the Hartree HPC Centre; the center houses the 4 petaflops Scafell Pike Bull Sequana X1000 and an Atos Quantum Learning Machine. It formerly hosted 1.4 teraflops IBM Blue Gene/Q Blue Joule supercomputer, before it was moved to the DiRAC facility at the Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham University in 2016.

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