"Cray is really gaining ground in the world of supercomputing again," said Ungaro. "A lot of our growth around the world has been coming" from the international community, he said. After struggling for years, Cray began to bounce back in 2006 when it won critical funding through the U.S. Defense Advanced Research and Development Agency. As a company, Cray has typically relied on government contracts to thrive, and the 2006 funding proved a key milestone for helping the company survive as a supercomputer specialist."Cray increasingly has had impressive wins in the market place, and it's a measure of how far the company has come, especially against some of the bigger names in the business," said Steve Conway, an IDC analyst. IBM has again won top supercomputing honors. Click here to read more. What separates Cray from some of the other supercomputers makers is the hybrid design that builds cabinets that use both industry-standard Advanced Micro Devices x86 Opteron processors and its own specially developed vector processors, which allow for high-memory bandwidth. The result is a supercomputer that can solve different problems by moving data from one set of processors to another depending on the workload, according to company officials. By establishing itself in academic institutions, Conway said companies such as Cray are also looking to offer their supercomputers for use in the enterprise in areas such as pharmaceuticals and engineering. "Supercomputing is one of the fastest growing of the markets out there, and its growing several times the rate of the commercial server market," Conway said. Ungaro said that since 2005, Cray has been following its road map and plans on introducing a new system every two years to complete its Cascade program. The next machine on the road map is "Baker," which is scheduled for 2009 and another system will follow in 2011. In keeping Cray competitive, Ungaro said that the technology the company is developing with the Cascade program and its current hybrid machines will help distinguish it from IBM in realm of high-end supercomputers. "We have quite a different model than those other vendors in that we're focused on a specific market-the high-end supercomputing market-and we think the addressable market is about $1.5 billion dollars, which for a company of our size, is a pretty large market to compete in," Ungaro said. "Our focus is to keep innovating in that marketplace."
Europe, which has been behind both the U.S. and Japan in the supercomputing field, is another prime target for vendors seeking lucrative government contracts. On Jan. 7, IBM announced that it had signed a new contract with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts to build a high performance cluster there.