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Professor Stephen Hawking Signs Five-Year Deal With SGI

(January 16, 2002)
SGI has announced a contract to provide an SGI Origin 3800 supercomputer to Professor Stephen Hawking's Cosmology Group at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, U.K. The powerful server will form the core of a new British computational grid being installed by SGI to support the COSMOS project, which enables experts to model the history of the universe from the first fractions of a second after the Big Bang to the present day, more than 10 billion years later.

The SGI server will be installed in February 2002, followed by a larger technology refresh by mid-2003, creating the largest cosmology supercomputer in the U.K. SGI has been providing supercomputing and visualization equipment to the COSMOS project, led by Professor Hawking, since 1997.

The announcement coincides with the "Stephen Hawking 60th Birthday Symposium," which took place last Friday, Jan. 11, with SGI as a sponsor. The event was organized in recognition of Professor Hawking's work and his contribution to the world's understanding of fundamental physics and cosmology. Scientists from around the world gathered in Cambridge for the symposium, which included scientific meetings and workshops and culminated in a lecture by Professor Hawking. For further information, visit

Professor Hawking explained, "A key research area of our consortium is the scientific exploration of the cosmic microwave background, the relic radiation left over from the Big Bang fireball, usually just called the CMB. The COSMOS supercomputer is the main platform on which we are developing techniques to analyze data from the world's most ambitious CMB experiment, the Planck Surveyor satellite, which is due for launch in 2007. This analysis is very computationally challenging, but it will give us unprecedented new information about the origin and present state of our universe.

"Cosmology is a rapidly advancing and highly competitive field, driven by new observational results. The COSMOS supercomputer has allowed us to turn our ideas very rapidly into concrete predictions, ensuring that U.K. cosmologists continue to make leading international contributions. On the shared-memory SGI Origin 3800 server, we can easily scale up our workstation codes to tackle really big problems, without all becoming computer jocks. We get time to think about the universe, not just about programming. We have benefited from leading-edge shared-memory technology from SGI ever since our first Origin family computer arrived in 1997, and we plan to continue to do so."

SGI Chairman and CEO Bob Bishop added, "It is SGI's plan to provide the fundamental computing power that underlies all scientific and creative progress in the digital world of the 21st century. We are deeply supportive of Professor Stephen Hawking's work to model the universe on SGI machines, and consider this endeavour as one of the greatest challenges that our equipment will ever face."

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