IBM unplugs from U of I supercomputer project

An IBM office is shown is New York. File photo

An IBM office is shown is New York. File photo  

IBM Corp has dropped out of a project to build one of the world’s fastest supercomputers at the University of Illinois, saying it requires too much financial and technical support.

The move leaves the university looking for someone to build the $300 million-plus Blue Waters system that it still hopes to deliver by the fall of 2012. The school’s National Centre for Supercomputing Applications will have just a few weeks to customize its plans to a new builder and present them to the project’s primary financier, the federal government’s National Science Foundation.

There is no guarantee the project that was originally expected to go online this year will continue.

IBM won’t say how much money the project would have cost the company, but Monday’s announcement followed several months of talks with university officials.

“As we moved forward in the project, increased cost from the final design and other changes made us come to the conclusion” not to continue, IBM spokeswoman Joanna Brewer said.

John Melchi, who is senior associate director at the university’s National Centre for Supercomputing Applications, said IBM’s decision is disappointing but said that with the NSF waiting for a revised plan there’s little time for the 120 or so people at the university who’ve worked on the project to do anything but keep working.

“When you look at the work you’ve put in the previous three or four years, it is disheartening,” he said. “Honestly, there’s a certain amount of energy here; people are inspired.” The NSF’s National Science Board, a 20-member group of scientists, expects to have a revised plan to vote on as early as mid-September, NSF spokeswoman Lisa-Joy Zgorski said.

“Whether or not we move forward with a comparable alternative ultimately rests upon the decision of the National Science Board,” she said.

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 7:11:15 PM |

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