It's back to the good old Crays

The development of Big Data has been a money spinner for the much written off Cray Computer.

Cray was a big name in the 1970s when you wanted a computer the size of an office block to run your payroll.  However, it disappeared into the background 20 years ago with the rise of the PC.

According to Reuters, Cray is surging back to prominence. Its shares have almost doubled over the last year.

The reason is that the explosion of data and the need to work out what it all means demands greater computing power.

Barry Bolding, a Cray vice president, at the company’s Seattle headquarters, said that five years ago people thought they could run simulations on a laptop.

That might have been true at the time, but now raw data is being created in exabytes. More data means a bigger computer, a bigger computer means more data, he said

More than 2.5 exabytes of data are now generated every day, and the world’s capacity to store that data is doubling every 40 months, which all plays to Cray’s cunning plans.

Cray cabinets cost $500,000 and some of the bigger customers can group 200 or more into massive supercomputers worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Titan, completed by Cray last year, is the world’s third-fastest supercomputer, takes up the size of a basketball court and can perform more than 20,000 trillion calculations a second.

Cray has 900 employees and a market value of around $940 million, has changed ownership several times and in June it nicked long term IBM customer the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

Wall Street analysts are expecting revenue of $519 million this year, up 23 percent from 2012, with a gross profit margin around 34 percent.