Cray wins Blue Waters supercomputer contract

Supercomputer peddler Cray has won a huge contract with the University of Illinois’ National Center [sic] for Supercomputing Applications. It’ll be providing the beast of a machine for the National Science Foundation’s Blue Waters project.

The NSF’s Blue Waters project has been on the cards for some time. Initially, IBM was set to build the machine but it pulled out at the last minute. So Cray got the contract.

Cray says the computer will be a Cray XE6 system twinned with an upgraded XK6 with GPU capability. Both will be bunged into the same machine to achieve a sustained performance of over a petaflop for more demanding scientific simulations.

Together, the integrated machne will sport 16-core AMD Opteron 6200 processors, AKA Interlagos, along with Nvidia’s Kepler GPU. Cray will provide its own storage.

The Cray contract runs at $188 million. It will take most of 2012 to get the system up and running but it should be all systems go in the fourth quarter, where it will be hosted at the University of Illinois’ National Petascale Computing Facility.

The contract win means Cray has tinkered with its financial outlook. Its 2011 projections are the same, but for 2012 Cray expects revenues to sit somewhere between $340 – $360 million. The Blue Waters system is penned in to cover around 40 percent of that.