Just over a year ago in October 2008, the Bloodhound project was launched. For those of you who don't already know, Bloodhound is an audacious attempt at beating the World Land Speed Record, but when I say beating, I really mean smashing, or even more accurately annihilating. The current record is held by Thrust SSC and stands at 763mph - SSC stands for Super Sonic Car, and Thrust SSC was the first land vehicle to break the sound barrier. But Bloodhound SSC is being designed and built to exceed 1,000mph, which is a massive jump over the current record and equates to an eye watering Mach 1.4!
As its name suggests, Bloodhound SSC is being driven by the same team behind Thrust SSC. Heading up the Bloodhound gang is Richard Noble, who himself held the World Land Speed Record when he drove Thrust 2 at 633mph, before becoming the Project Director of Thrust SSC. Noble handed driving duties over to Wing Commander Andy Green for the Thrust SSC record attempts, and Green will be in the driving seat again with Bloodhound SSC.
Today the Bloodhound SSC Technical Centre was officially opened, and I was lucky enough to be there. Based in Bristol's docklands, the new facility is where Bloodhound SSC will actually be constructed. Over the past year Bloodhound SSC has gone through ten different design configurations, but the latest design is believed to be optimal, and that is what construction will be based on.
The amount of computing power required for a project like Bloodhound SSC is incredible, so it came as no surprise that the IT partner for the project is Intel. In fact Intel has already built a massively parallel supercomputer at its Swindon headquarters which has been integral in the design of Bloodhound SSC. John Piper, who heads up the Bloodhound SSC engineering team said that the Intel supercomputer had reduced computational times from days to a matter of hours.
I also learned today that the cockpit of Bloodhound SSC will be driven by an Intel Atom based on-board computer. However, this will be a completely bespoke system, as it needs to employ an ISA bus architecture as opposed to the more modern PCI Express based computers we have today. I'm not 100 per cent sure as to why ISA is preferable to PCI, but I've got to assume that with the combined engineering prowess of the Bloodhound SSC team, they have a good reason.