The £97m computer, which weighs in at 140 tonnes, is located at Exeter Science Park, with the final part of it going in a new building designed by architect Stride Treglown. Willmott Dixon was awarded a £20m contract by the Met Office through Scape’s national major works framework.
The supercomputer will enable the Met Office to run more sophisticated weather and climate models which assist the UK’s resilience to extreme weather events. It will be 13 times more powerful than the current system used by the Met Office, will have 120,000 times more memory than a top-end smartphone and will be able to perform more than 16,000 trillion calculations per second, the Met Office says.
Met Office deputy director Dave Underwood said: “High performance computing is an essential component of everything the Met Office does and the first phase of the new supercomputer is already operational, five weeks ahead of schedule.
“It’s going to be exciting to see this new facility at the Science Park becoming a reality. It brings the vision of a world-leading centre of environmental science prediction in the south-west and improved UK resilience to high impact weather another step closer.”
For Willmott Dixon, the building contract comes just weeks after handing over one of the world’s leading satellite testing facilities at Harwell Science Campus in Oxfordshire
Regional managing director Neal Stephens said: “This will be another important asset to our country’s technology sector, providing us with one of Europe’s biggest supercomputers inside an iconic building that we will create. We are very proud to be playing such an important part in this project; it further compliments our skill-set for building science facilities that make us a world leader in this sector.”
Willmott Dixon will be working in Exeter with services engineer Arup and structural engineer WSP as well as Stride Treglown.