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Blue Waters Supercomputer Officially Launched

An event Thursday at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign marked the official launch of the Blue Waters supercomputer project.

As one of the world's fastest supercomputers, Blue Waters can handle unusually complex calculations. U of I President Robert Easter said the Blue Waters project will help researchers tackle complex issues from how viruses spread to detecting earthquakes.

“The problems that they will grasp with are ones that require enormous computing power, which only this machine will be able to deliver,” Easter said. “They truly do focus on global issues, health related issues, climate change, and issues that are important to understanding the world we live in; basically the universe.”

Phyllis Wise, who is the chancellor on the U of I’s Urbana campus, said the possibilities with this technology are endless.

“There are no shortcuts to breakthroughs,” Wise said. “You never can tell when they’re going to happen, but when people work together and have the kind of infrastructure and the kind of computing power that Blue Waters will enable, you can’t help but to know that there is great promise in the future.”

The state of Illinois put in $60 million to build the facility at the U of I that houses Blue Waters.

Back in 2011, there were concerns about the project’s future after IBM withdrew from its development because of technical and financial challenges. However, another company called Cray Inc. came on aboard.