Feds Funnel Millions Into Supercomputers

Feds this week awarded more than $146 million in grants to Cray, IBM and Sun Microsystems to build supercomputers.

The federal government this week awarded more than $146 million in grants to Cray Inc., IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc. to build supercomputers as part of the second phase of the governments HPCS (high productivity computing systems) program.

Through DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the U.S. Department of Defense awarded IBM $53.3 million to continue its PERCS (Productive, Easy-to-use, Reliable Computing Systems) program. The Armonk, N.Y., companys program is aimed at creating computers that can handle a wide variety of enterprise and high-performance computing workloads.

Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., received $49.7 million for a program called Hero, which is designed to use a simplified, integrated architecture to improve worker productivity.

Cray, in partnership with fellow Seattle-based company New Technology Endeavors Inc., received $43.1 million to develop Cascade, a concept that includes hardware innovations, such as processor-in-memory technologies, to create greater memory bandwidth. It also includes software innovations to speed up the development of new applications while maintaining the performance of current apps.

According to DARPA, the HPCS program is designed to facilitate the creation of new supercomputers that can be used for both national security and commercial uses by the end of the decade.

The first phase of HPCS—prompted in part when Japan last year rolled out the worlds fastest computer, the Earth Simulator, built by NEC Corp.—was a one-year concept study. The second phase, which will span three years, is for research and development. The four-year third phase will incorporate the engineering and development of products.