On August 8, 2007, the National Science Board (NSB) authorized the National Science Foundation (NSF) to award the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign a grant totaling $208 million, to be used over a 4.5 year period to develop the world's most powerful "leadership-class" supercomputer. This supercomputer, titled "Blue Waters", will be able to make arithmetic calculations at a continuous rate of over 1,000-trillion operations per second (a speed known as a "petaflop" per second), which is 500 times faster than today's most common supercomputers.
Leading this project will be Dr. Thomas Dunning, Director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and the endowed Distinguished Chair for Research Excellence in Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In conjunction with the NCSA's academic and industry partners in the Great Lakes Consortium for Petascale Computation, NCSA will use Blue Waters to help solve some of the most complex and challenging questions and problems known in science and engineering today.
In addition to the scientific ramifications, Dr. Dunning and the NCSA are partnering with Southeast Universities Research Association, the Great Lakes Consortium and the Shodor Education Foundation with the goal of integrating supercomputing on the scale of Blue Waters into college - and pre-college - curricula. Using Blue Waters, the NCSA and its partners plan to develop a new virtual school of computer science and engineering that will impact education on a national scale.
The award from the NSF must proceed through administrative and financial processes before it is finalized. The processing is expected to be completed this fall, and the system is expected to go live in 2011.
Note: Some material contained herein adapted from NSF press release 07-095, released on August 8, 2007 by the National Science Foundation.