A Pounds 26-million supercomputer service funded and managed under a private finance initiative will go to Manchester University.
The machine will be based on Silicon Graphics' latest T3E-1200E supercomputer, which is able to make 700 billion calculations per second. It will be the most powerful computer in Europe for academic research and the fourth most powerful in the world.
The research councils are providing the financial backing for the initiative. led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, they have struck a six-year management and service deal with a private sector consortium led by Computer Services Corporation. Access to the computer will be available to researchers in other universities and research council laboratories.
The EPSRC's projected share of computer time will be about 60 per cent, with the Natural Environment Research Council using 25 per cent and other councils (except the Medical Research Council which is not part of the scheme) sharing the remainder.
An EPSRC spokeswoman said the machine will be upgraded to be twice as powerful in three years' time. Private firm involvement could speed up its processing power. Firms will be charged and income set aside for spending on councils' research projects.