Scottish supercomputer wins prize

Maxwell, a supercomputer built in Scotland, has won a medal at the British Computer Society IT Industry Awards.

The computer was built by FPGA High Performance Computing Alliance, and won a runner-up place in the BT Flagship Award for Innovation category.

The FHPCA was established in 2004 to promote the use of field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) as an alternative to microprocessers. Maxwell uses FPGAs and according to FHPCA, requires much less space and cooling, is more than 100 times more energy-efficient and up to 300 times faster than a conventional microprocessor system.

Maxwell has been applied in sectors ranging from oil and gas to finance. In one demonstration, the Alliance implemented the Black-Scholes algorithm, which is commonly used to calculate future stock prices, and results showed that the algorithm ran 320 times faster per FPGA on Maxwell than on the host PC.

The Alliance is led by the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre at EdinburghUniversity, which comprises Alpha Data, Nallatech, Xilinx, Algotronix, Scottish Enterprise and the iSLI.