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Cray Takes Over for IBM to Build $188 Million Supercomputer

Supercomputer maker, Cray Inc., today announced that the University of Illinois' National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) awarded the company a contract to build a massive supercomputer for the National Science Foundation's Blue Waters project.

Blue Waters Project SupercomputerAfter the University of Illinois and NCSA selected IBM in 2007 to build the supercomputer, IBM terminated the contract related to the project in August 2011 and returned money it received related to the contract after IBM said the project was more complex and required significantly increased financial and technical support beyond its original expectations.

According to Cray, the supercomputer will be comprised of a Cray XE6 system and a future upgrade of the recently-announced Cray XK6 supercomputer with GPU computing capability incorporated into a single, powerful hybrid supercomputer. Once fully deployed, the Blue Waters system is expected to have a sustained performance of more than one petaflops on demanding scientific applications.

Products and services combined, the contract is valued at $188 million and will be installed in multiple phases over the first three quarters of 2012 at the University of Illinois' National Petascale Computing Facility.

The supercomputer will be powered by new 16-core AMD Opteron 6200 Series processors (formerly code-named "Interlagos"), a next-generation GPU from NVIDIA, called "Kepler," and a new integrated storage solution from Cray.

"We're very excited to have been selected by the NCSA, NSF and the University of Illinois to deliver the Blue Waters system, which represents one of the largest contracts in our company's history," said Peter Ungaro, president and CEO of Cray. "Together with the recently announced $97 million contract to upgrade the 'Jaguar' system at Oak Ridge National Laboratories, these contracts demonstrate Cray's leadership position in supercomputing. With a strong core business and future growth opportunities around our new initiatives, we are extremely pleased to be able to provide our outlook for 2012 of strong revenue growth and profitability."

The Blue Waters project will deliver a supercomputer capable of sustained performance of 1 petaflop on a range of real-world science and engineering applications. Scientists will use the supercomputer across several fields of science, including predicting the behavior of complex biological systems and understanding how the cosmos evolved after the Big Bang. Scientists and Engineers also plan to use the computer to design new materials at the atomic level, predict the behavior of hurricanes and tornadoes, and simulate complex engineered systems like the power distribution system and airplanes and automobiles.