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London Olympic computer system warms up for 2012 Games

Testing has begun on the computers that will keep the 2012 London Olympics running, jumping, diving and trampolining.

On your marks, get set, goto! Stress testing has begun on the computer systems that will keep the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games running. And jumping, and diving, and throwing, and rowing and pedalling and wrestling and shooting and trampolining and swimming and winning.

Olympic chairman Seb Coe fired the starting pistol yesterday for IT boffins from Atos Origin to race through 200,000 hours of testing. A mini mock-up of the 34 Olympic venues has been created in a 2,000sq/m technology lab in Canary Wharf, where all manner of scenarios will be tested in advance. The system needs to be able to guard against problems from power failure to flooding to announcing the wrong results.

When the torch is lit to signal the start of the London Olympics, 900 servers, 1,000 network devices and 9,500 computers will be working overtime. Results will be flashed to scoreboards, commentators and spectators faster than Usain Bolt. Even before that, the system has to process the thousands of volunteers and officials, sponsors and press, as well as athletes coming to the games.

Other companies involved in the project include BT, Cisco, Panasonic, Acer, Samsung and Omega. A separate security and emergency system, the National Olympic Coordination Centre, is also set to be in place in March with a large-scale emergency drill scheduled for September.

Tickets go on sale on Tuesday 15 March 2011 and the games kick off on 27 July 2012, with the Paralympics following on 29 August. The Olympics are a deadline for assorted technology projects, from 3D Freeview TV to mobile phones on the Tube. It's also likely to drive television sales, as World Cups and royal weddings have done since the Coronation in 1953 brought TVs into many homes. Could the Olympics be the event that sees 3D TV sprint-finish into our living rooms?