The Rt.Hon. Alok Sharma MP was appointed Business & Energy Secretary on the 13th February 2020.

On the 17th February 2020 he announced a £1.2 billion meteorological supercomputer to be built which would be operational by 2022.

This announcement was to coincide with ‘Year of Climate Action 2020’ theme which is part of the government’s policy as part of leading a global fight against climate change and meeting zero emissions targets.

This new computer will be six times more powerful than the Met’s existing system giving it the ability to create what the Met Office calls a "digital twin’’ of the earth’s atmosphere in order to run highly detailed models of our weather.

The Cray XC40 super computer is said to be capable of over 14,000 trillion arithmetic operations per second and has 2 petabytes of memory.

In layman’s language 1 petabyte = 1,000 terabytes or 1,000,000 gigabytes (GB). Or in schoolboy language ‘could you repeat that again Sir!’

Once up and running the system may have many applications which would prove invaluable for our aviation industry and flood defences.

Perhaps the most powerful supercomputer in the world at the time of writing this article is ‘’Summit’’ at the Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee, USA built by IBM 30th September 2019.

In case you ask ‘’what’s under the hood?’’ 148.6 petaflops……. That’s Big!!!

Long gone the first generation computer ‘Colossus’ with thermionic valves used by the British code breakers in 1943/45 using cryptanalysis of the Lorenz cipher.

The next generation to follow ‘Summit’ we will be talking in ‘Yottaflops’ as the late Miss Cilla Black would say ‘’That’s a lora, lora flops’’.

Allan Foxall

New Forest