2.9 The Inquiry has been conducted by Sub-Committee
II, which prepared this Report. The Sub-Committee membership and
declarations of interest are set out in Appendix 1. Our Specialist
Adviser was Professor Steve Furber FRS FREng, ICL Professor of
Computer Engineering at the University of Manchester. We are grateful
for his assistance in considering the many technical questions
that arose during the Inquiry.
Call for evidence
2.10 Against the background indicated above,
the Inquiry was formally launched in February 2002 with the issue
of the call for evidence reproduced in Appendix 2. Reflecting
the Sub-Committee's understanding of the subject at the time,
this concentrated on materials technology. As discussed later
in this Report, we have come to the view that the centre of gravity
at least for the United Kingdom lies more in design
2.11 We received written evidence from a wide
range of sources, listed in Appendix 3. The written evidence was
complemented by oral evidence received at ten public hearings
between April and July 2002. The oral and written evidence is
published in Volume II of this Report. We are grateful to all
those concerned for their help in clarifying and exploring the
technical and wider questions.
2.12 In addition, we explored our subject through
a number of other activities.
(a) To help us prepare for reviewing the highly
technical evidence that was to be received, we visited NPL in
March 2002 to familiarise ourselves with the microscopically small
matters with which we would be dealing. A note of that visit is
in Appendix 4.
(b) Also in March 2002, we commissioned a seminar
enabling us to discuss matters with leading experts from a wide
range of disciplines. A note of that seminar, which was kindly
hosted by the Royal Society, is in Appendix 5.
(c) The United States of America (US) has an
undisputed leading role in the global computing industry. Having
begun to understand the UK scene, we felt the need to test our
emerging views with the major US computing interests. For this
purpose, we visited Silicon Valley in the Bay Area around San
Francisco in June 2002. A note of that visit (which included a
seminar, kindly hosted by Stanford University, analogous to the
Royal Society event mentioned immediately above) is in Appendix
(d) A number of those giving evidence to us argued
that there would be advantage in the United Kingdom's having some
centre for research into computing. The exemplar most often cited
was IMEC at Leuven in Belgium. We visited that Centre in July
2002 to discuss with the leading figures there the factors that
had been critical to its undoubted success. A note of that visit
is in Appendix 7.
We are most grateful to all those who hosted our
various visits and contributed to the two seminars for the generous
contribution of their time and knowledge to our deliberations.
2.13 Chapter 1 of this Report summarises the
document as a whole and gives an overview of our findings. These
flow from our consideration through the Inquiry outlined
in this Chapter of a wide variety of inter-related technical
and business matters. The rest of this Report is structured to
provide a coherent route through those matters, as outlined in
paragraphs 1.6 to 1.22.
2.14 The abbreviations and technical terms used
in this Report are generally explained only the first time they
are used. For convenience, they are all listed in Appendix 8 together
with a glossary of the main technical terms.