A supercomputer project in the US has revealed the danger of getting too moist about Big Iron.
The Encanto supercomputer was built in 2008 and was, at the time, the third-fastest machine in the world. It was built and maintained using $20 million of state funding.
Encanto is composed of 28 racks of processors. Each rack has 500 processors, for a total of 14,000 cores that together can perform 172 trillion calculations per second.
At the time, everyone wanted a supercomputer. Encanto had the enthusiastic backing of Gov. Bill Richardson, who saw the project as an economic development tool for New Mexico.
But big business did not really use the supercomputer and later political leaders saw it as a white elephant which was a symbol of excess. The non-profit New Mexico Computing Applications Center could no longer afford to maintain the machine.
But getting rid of the computer is also problematic. According to the Datacentre Knowledge that it had a sale and no buyer showed up. There was not even a bald bloke with a white cat who wanted to wire the supercomputer up to his volcano and he is always there.
Now it looks like the machine will have to be broken up and sold by the cabinet to state universities that could reuse the hardware.
UNM wants to take 10 of the computing racks. New Mexico State University wants four, and the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology would take two racks.
The project is now being seen as a warning to those who invest in Big Iron projects without really thinking it through.