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Primeur weekly 2014-11-17

Special

China's Tianhe-2 supercomputer retains top spot on fourth consecutive TOP500 List ...

TOP500 site gets new look and expands content ...

Focus

Netherlands Forensic Institute to crack crime using HPC and Big Data ...

Intel to support merging of HPC and data analytics on the hardware, software and application level ...

Exascale supercomputing

U.S. to build two flagship supercomputers for national labs ...

Department of Energy awards $425 million for next generation supercomputing technologies ...

The Cloud

Altair launches HyperWorks Unlimited - Virtual for Amazon Web Services ...

EuroFlash

SysFera-DS V5.0 released ...

Bright Computing appoints industry veteran Clement Lau as Director for Asia Pacific ...

Bright Cluster Manager now supports RHEL 7 and CentOS 7 ...

UK Laboratory celebrates 50 years of supercomputing ...

Groundbreaking Welsh research project seeks to substantially cut cyclist deaths ...

MEGWARE and Numascale extend their collaboration and co-exhibit at SC14 ...

IBM, Forschungszentrum Jülich and NVIDIA team to establish POWER Acceleration and Design Center ...

E4 Computer Engineering and Applied Micro Circuits Corporation will showcase the ARKA server RK003 at SC14 ...

USFlash

Indiana University showcases advanced computing tech at annual supercomputing conference ...

John West to head Strategic Initiatives at TACC ...

IDC finds growth, consolidation, and changing ownership patterns in worldwide data centre forecast ...

Supercomputers fuel global high-resolution climate models ...

100 supercomputers later, Los Alamos high-performance computing still supports national security mission ...

Asia Supercomputer Community to launch ASC15 at SC14 ...

ArrayFire is now open source ...

Mellanox announces availability of 100Gb/s Direct Attach Copper and Active Optical Cables ...

Mellanox provides leading application performance with FDR InfiniBand for HPC-purpose built Dell PowerEdge C4130 ...

Mellanox EDR 100Gb/s InfiniBand solutions chosen for leading CORAL supercomputer project ...

CoolIT Systems features full range of Direct Contact Liquid Cooling solutions for HPC servers and data centres at SC14 ...

Supercomputing invited plenary talks focus on high-performance computing at DreamWorks Animation and NIH's vision for solving future computational challenges in health care ...

Supercomputing beyond genealogy reveals surprising European ancestors ...

U.S. Department of Energy selects IBM "data centric" systems to advance research and tackle Big Data challenges ...

Oak Ridge to acquire next generation supercomputer ...

Ohio supercomputing experts to leverage conference presence ...

UK Laboratory celebrates 50 years of supercomputing


13 Nov 2014 Swindon - UK computing is celebrating fifty years since the launch of what was at that time the largest supercomputer in the world, the Atlas 1. When built it was the size of a large detached house. Now that same computing capacity would fit in your pocket inside your mobile phone.

In 1964, the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in Oxfordshire opened the UK's first purpose-built computer laboratory to house one of the world's first supercomputers. Not only did this facility go on to produce the world's first computer animated films during the mid-seventies it also contributed the 3D wire-frame model shown on the navigation monitors in the landing sequence of the Ridley Scott film 'Alien' - making it the Industrial Light and Magic or Weta computer animation facility of its day.

The Ferranti Atlas 1 computer was the largest of three world leading computers built in the UK. It cost around GBP3 million - equivalent to about GBP80 million in today's currency - and was so enormous the Atlas Computer Laboratory, as it was known then, was built to fit the computer.

On 13-14 November, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) opened RAL's doors to celebrate those 50 years of supercomputing, with a series of talks, tours and exhibits to highlight the importance of this computer facility to society today.

In the 1960s and 70s, universities and other research establishments that needed to use computing facilities had to put their programme and data onto punch cards and post them to the Atlas Computing Laboratory, where their programme would be run for them.

Dr. Andrew Taylor, Executive Director, STFC National Laboratories, stated: "Since those early days, computing at RAL has gone from strength to strength, and the Atlas Centre is now home to Tier One - where data from the Large Hadron Collider is stored in the UK, as well as a range of other facilities such those which process data from weather satellites. Fifty years on, the technology is so far advanced that a mobile phone is more powerful and far cheaper than the Atlas computer."

The Atlas processor used more than 5,600 circuit boards, which would have covered an area about the size of a tennis court - around 90,000 times bigger than a modern computer chip. One of its discs could hold just two photographs, whereas today’s equivalent, the USB stick, can store thousands of images.

The original Atlas Computer Laboratory established a national computing operation to support scientific research. Since 1964 that UK computing operation has been a part of many technical and scientific innovations. It has contributed to the governance of the World Wide Web; it has managed the data which led to the discovery of the Higgs boson, and it continues to support major scientific experiments at facilities in the UK and internationally.

The world's first computer animations were produced at the laboratory. These included an animated model of stress-loading across an M6 motorway bridge that was being built at the time. It was the first entirely computer-produced engineering film to be made in the UK and won the Great Britain entry in the 1976 international Technical Films Competition in Moscow. Most famously, the laboratory's facilities were used to produce the 3D wire-frame model shown on the navigation monitors in the landing sequence of the Ridley Scott film 'Alien', which won the 1979 Academy Award for best visual effects.

People touring the Atlas Centre exhibits during these 50th Anniversary celebrations will discover the rich history of computing innovations at RAL, from the very beginning of supercomputers to the endless possibilities of today.

Dr. Taylor added: "We are particularly excited that, in its 50th anniversary year, we are able to display the console from the original Atlas computer, together with memorabilia of the time."

Though the Atlas computing operation has gone from strength to strength the Ferranti Atlas 1 itself closed in March 1973 and was replaced by an ICT1906A. In the eight years of operation it had run for 44,500 hours with a 97% up time. 836,000 jobs were run, 300 million cards read, 4000 million characters from paper tape read, 800 million lines of line-printer output generated and 17 million cards punched.
Source: Science and Technology Facilities Council - STFC

Back to Table of contents

Primeur weekly 2014-11-17

Special

China's Tianhe-2 supercomputer retains top spot on fourth consecutive TOP500 List ...

TOP500 site gets new look and expands content ...

Focus

Netherlands Forensic Institute to crack crime using HPC and Big Data ...

Intel to support merging of HPC and data analytics on the hardware, software and application level ...

Exascale supercomputing

U.S. to build two flagship supercomputers for national labs ...

Department of Energy awards $425 million for next generation supercomputing technologies ...

The Cloud

Altair launches HyperWorks Unlimited - Virtual for Amazon Web Services ...

EuroFlash

SysFera-DS V5.0 released ...

Bright Computing appoints industry veteran Clement Lau as Director for Asia Pacific ...

Bright Cluster Manager now supports RHEL 7 and CentOS 7 ...

UK Laboratory celebrates 50 years of supercomputing ...

Groundbreaking Welsh research project seeks to substantially cut cyclist deaths ...

MEGWARE and Numascale extend their collaboration and co-exhibit at SC14 ...

IBM, Forschungszentrum Jülich and NVIDIA team to establish POWER Acceleration and Design Center ...

E4 Computer Engineering and Applied Micro Circuits Corporation will showcase the ARKA server RK003 at SC14 ...

USFlash

Indiana University showcases advanced computing tech at annual supercomputing conference ...

John West to head Strategic Initiatives at TACC ...

IDC finds growth, consolidation, and changing ownership patterns in worldwide data centre forecast ...

Supercomputers fuel global high-resolution climate models ...

100 supercomputers later, Los Alamos high-performance computing still supports national security mission ...

Asia Supercomputer Community to launch ASC15 at SC14 ...

ArrayFire is now open source ...

Mellanox announces availability of 100Gb/s Direct Attach Copper and Active Optical Cables ...

Mellanox provides leading application performance with FDR InfiniBand for HPC-purpose built Dell PowerEdge C4130 ...

Mellanox EDR 100Gb/s InfiniBand solutions chosen for leading CORAL supercomputer project ...

CoolIT Systems features full range of Direct Contact Liquid Cooling solutions for HPC servers and data centres at SC14 ...

Supercomputing invited plenary talks focus on high-performance computing at DreamWorks Animation and NIH's vision for solving future computational challenges in health care ...

Supercomputing beyond genealogy reveals surprising European ancestors ...

U.S. Department of Energy selects IBM "data centric" systems to advance research and tackle Big Data challenges ...

Oak Ridge to acquire next generation supercomputer ...

Ohio supercomputing experts to leverage conference presence ...