Monday, August 8, 2011

The End of “Blue Waters” – It is Now Official

Blue Waters is the name of a Petascale supercomputer that was supposed to be deployed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (NCSA). The project started with on August 8, 2007 with a lot of press publicity from both the university and IBM as the National Science Board approved a resolution which authorized the National Science Foundation to fund "the acquisition and deployment of the world's most powerful leadership-class supercomputer." The NSF awarded $208 million for four and a half years for the Blue Waters project.

The Blue Waters project, an IBM Power7-based system was supposed to be a supercomputer capable of sustained performance of 1 Petaflop on a range of real-world science and engineering applications, or roughly 10 Petaflop if you use the Linpack benchmark for peak performance. It was expected to be one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world.

Earlier this week an official statement from IBM and NCSA announced the termination for the Blue Waters project due to much higher costs that has been associated with this project – “The technology that IBM developed was more complex and required significantly increased financial and technical support by IBM beyond its original expectations… IBM will return money received to date and NCSA will return equipment delivered by IBM per terms of the contract”.

Developing yet another proprietary system (e.g. Cray, SGI UV, IBM BG) is definitely a waste of money and definitely will be very expensive (Da...). I did not see the reason for that in 2007, nor do I see a reason for that today. The US government can save costs by not funding proprietary systems as it has been doing for years now, and rather support development of standard based systems that can serve both for the leading research activities, and the commercial market and of course it will help my smaller scale research studies as well.  

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