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Chi Onwurah MP pushes the button on the launch of the COSMA 8 supercomputer

We’re home to a new £10m supercomputer that will help scientists around the world investigate the mysteries of the Universe.

The Cosmology Machine 8 (COSMA 8) has the power and memory of 17,000 home personal computers.

Hosted by Durham University on behalf of the UK’s DiRAC High-Performance Computing facility, COSMA 8 was officially launched by Chi Onwurah MP, Shadow Minister for Science, Research and Innovation.

Dark matter and dark energy

It will be used by scientists to develop and test theories about the origin of our Universe, dark matter, dark energy, the formation of galaxies, gravitational waves, the evolution of stars and the origin of planets.

COSMA 8 consists of 67,584 individual processors working together to produce high-powered simulations of the Universe.

With half a Petabyte of memory, it is the most powerful supercomputer dedicated to academic research in the UK for calculations requiring exceptionally large memory.

Understanding the Universe in greater detail

Together with our partners around the world, Durham is at the forefront of research into some of the most fascinating and fundamental questions in modern science including the search for the identity of dark matter, the nature of dark energy and the origin of galaxies.

Dark energy is behind the accelerating expansion of the Universe, while dark matter makes up the structural backbone — not visible through telescopes — upon which galaxies eventually form.

As computational power increases, so does our ability to understand in greater and greater detail how the Universe came to be, why it looks as it does today and what its ultimate fate might be.

Find out more

  • COSMA has been in existence since July 2001 and with the latest version is now in its 8th generation.

  • Durham’s Institute for Computational Cosmology hosts COSMA 8 on behalf of the DiRAC High Performance Computing Facility. It has received £10 million in funding for COSMA 8, primarily from UK Research and Innovation, administered by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

  • COSMA's current computational power is the force behind some of the world’s leading cosmology research projects including the international Virgo Consortium for Cosmological Supercomputer Simulations, which is led by Durham University.

  • Our Department of Physics is a thriving centre for research and education. Ranked 2nd in the UK in The Guardian University Guide 2024 and in the World Top 100 in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023, we are proud to deliver a teaching and learning experience for students which closely aligns with the research-intensive values and practices of the University. Feeling inspired? Visit our Physics webpages to learn more about our postgraduate and undergraduate programmes. Durham University is a top 100 world university. In the QS World University Rankings 2024, we were ranked 78th globally. 

Chi Onwurah MP unveils a plaque marking the opening of the COSMA 8 supercomputer

Chi Onwurah, Shadow Minister for Science, Research, and Innovation, officially unveils the plaque marking the official opening of the new COSMA 8 supercomputer hosted by Durham University on behalf of the UK’s DiRAC High-Performance Computing facility.

Racks of computers in the COSMA 8 machine room

COSMA 8 has the processing power and memory of 17,000 home PCs and will help scientists around the world investigate the mysteries of the Universe.

A simulation of the Universe made with COSMA showing a

A simulation from the EAGLE Project showing a slice through of a cosmological simulation of a region approximately 300 million light years across. The white dots show virtual galaxies and the colours cosmic gas at different temperatures. The simulation was performed using a previous generation of COSMA. COSMA 8 will allow scientists to simulate the evolution of the Universe in even more precise detail.