National Center for Supercomputing Applications

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National Center for Supercomputing Applications

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) is an American state-federal partnership to develop and deploy national-scale cyberinfrastructure that advances science and engineering. NCSA operates as a unit of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign but it provides high-performance computing resources to researchers across the country. Support for NCSA comes from the National Science Foundation, the state of Illinois, the University of Illinois, business and industry partners, and other federal agencies.

NCSA provides leading-edge computing, data storage, and visualization resources. NCSA computational and data environment implements a multi-architecture hardware strategy, deploying both clusters and shared memory systems to support high-end users and communities on the architectures best-suited to their requirements. Nearly 1,360 scientists, engineers and students used the computing and data systems at NCSA to support research in more than 830 projects. A list of NCSA hardware is available at NCSA Capabilities

Today NCSA is collaborating with IBM, under a grant from the National Science Foundation, to build [1] "Blue Waters", a supercomputer capable of performing 1 quadrillion calculations per second, a measure known as a petaflop. Blue Waters is due to come online in 2011.

NCSA is led by Thom Dunning, a computational chemist who previously worked at the University of Tennessee, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the United States Department of Energy and the Argonne National Laboratory.


Origin of Supercomputer Centers

Larry Smarr wrote an ambitious proposal to address the future needs of scientific research. Seven other University of Illinois professors joined as co-Principal Investigators, and many others provided descriptions of what could be accomplished if the proposal were accepted. Known as the Black Proposal (after the color of its cover), it was submitted to the NSF in 1983. It met the NSF's mandate and its contents immediately generated excitement. However, the NSF had no organization in place to support it, and the proposal itself did not contain a clearly defined home for its implementation.

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