Six High Performance Computing (HPC) centres that will give academics and industry access to powerful computers to support research in engineering and the physical sciences, will be officially launched on Thursday 30 March at the Thinktank science museum in Birmingham.

Funded by £20 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) the centres are located around the UK, at the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Exeter, and Oxford, Loughborough University, and UCL.

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC's Chief Executive, said: "These centres will enable new discoveries, drive innovation and allow new insights into today's scientific challenges. They are important because they address an existing gulf in capability between local university systems and the UK National Supercomputing Service ARCHER. Many universities are involved in the six new centres, and these will give more researchers easy access to High Performance Computing."

The centres will be used by a diverse range of the research community and will, for example, be used to predict how a jet engine will perform; explore new materials for energy generation and storage; and develop driverless cars.

Some of the centres will be available free of charge to any EPSRC-supported researcher, and some will give access to UK industry.

The new centres provide a diversity of computing architectures, which are driven by science needs and are not met by the national facilities or universities. This is because the National HPC Service must meet the needs of the whole UK community and so cannot specialise in specific novel architectures or novel requirements.

The different types of computing requirements provided by this Tier-2 group include high-throughput and GPU computing; for example, the JADE system at the University of Oxford will be the largest GPU facility in the UK. The GW4 centre will be a world-leading ARM-based testbed, where scientists will be able to choose from a wide range of emerging architectures to run their applications.