Work started on Blue Waters supercomputer

Building work has begun on what could be one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world.

Blue Waters is supposed to give a sustained performance of one petaflop, and is so clever that its very design has confirmed the existance of rice pudding and income tax. Once it is built, it will be used in science and engineering.

According to,  Blue Waters has had a long and expensive history. It was given funding in 2007 and was to be built at the National Centre for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) located at the University of Illinois.

But it turned out to be too tricky for the IBM team working on it and after three years planning the build, they gave up and went to lunch and have gone missing presumed fed.

Cray stepped in with a plan which they think is so clever it makes Stephen Hawking look about as clever as a Britwell speed hump by comparison. It is thought that it will be all installed by the end of the year.

Cray is receiving $188 million for building Blue Waters. It is based around 235 Cray XE6 cabinets that use AMD’s 16-core Opteron 6200 processors combined with 4GB of memory per Opteron core for a total of 1.5 petabytes.

The units will be linked by Cray’s Gemini high-performance interconnect and the system will run Cray’s Linux Environment and GPU/CPU Programming Environment. Once the whole lot is running Cray claims that it can add an extra 30 cabinets containing Cray XK6 blades that use Nvidia’s Tesla GPUs with Kepler architecture.

On the storage side, it will have 500 petabytes of disk space and 300Gbps of wide area connections to play with.

What must be embarrissing for Biggish Blue is that we reported how Cray got the contract in November and it has managed to do what IBM couldn’t do in three years in a few months.