HECToR – The New UK National High Productivity Computing Service

Thursday 3rd July 2008, 6:30 pm

Speaker: Dr Mark Parsons, Commercial Director, EPCC

Venue: The Royal Scots Club Hepburn Suite, 30 Abercromby Place, Edinburgh EH3 6QE - map and direction.

This talk is free of charge and no reservation is required. Non members are most welcome. Refreshments available from 6:10 pm.


Edinburgh now hosts one of the largest supercomputers in the world – the 60 Teraflop Cray XT4 HECToR service. Since 1990, EPCC, the supercomputing centre at The University of Edinburgh, has hosted an ever faster range of HPC systems for UK academia and business. With over 12,000 processor cores, HECToR represents the future of large-scale numerical computing. It also demonstrates the challenges all software applications face as the race to build larger and larger multi-core processors continues.

Few applications today can make full use of multi-core processors. Even when they have been parallelised, few of them scale beyond a few tens of cores. The challenge facing many software companies is how to prepare for the many-core world as the number of cores on processors increases from 2 to 4 to 8 and beyond. The expertise we have in Scotland through HECToR gives Scottish companies the opportunity to parallelise and scale their solutions for the future. At the same time, HECToR can also be used by Scottish companies to model their products and processes using Independent Software Vendor (ISV) applications or bespoke applications on a pay-per-use basis.

This talk will introduce HECToR to the audience with pictures and facts and figures. It will discuss the many challenges facing the software industry in the age of multi- and many-core systems and show how HECToR and EPCC can benefit Scottish companies through provision of access to the capability and skills they represent.

About the speaker


Dr Mark Parsons, graduated from The University of Dundee in 1989 with a BSc (Hons) in Physics and Digital Microelectronics. Moving to The University of Edinburgh he gained an MSc in IT: Parallel Systems Engineering before completing a PhD in Particle Physics in 1994 based on work undertaken on the LEP accelerator at CERN in Geneva.

He joined EPCC (formerly known as Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre) in 1994 as a software developer working on several industrial contracts before becoming the Centre’s Commercial Manager in 1997 a role he keeps to this day. With direct responsibility for industrial project development for EPCC he has generated projects with over 30 companies in the past 3 years. In 2000 he assisted CERN with the preparation of the DataGrid project - one of the European Union’s most important Grid development projects.

In 2001 EPCC successfully bid with The University of Glasgow to establish the UK National e-Science Centre in Edinburgh. Since August 2001, whilst continuing in the role of EPCC Commercial Manager, Dr Parsons is also the Commercial Director of the NeSC.