Commentary: Supercomputer a waste of ...

Commentary: Supercomputer a waste of taxpayer money

There are 8 comments on the Silver City Sun-News story from Jun 10, 2009, titled Commentary: Supercomputer a waste of taxpayer money. In it, Silver City Sun-News reports that:

When economic times are good and budgets are flush, politicians love to come up with ambitious new projects for the supposed purpose of "economic development." One such initiative is New Mexico's supercomputer, the ultimate costs of which are unclear, but the benefits of which are highly suspect.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Silver City Sun-News.

Computer Scientist

Foster, RI

#1 Jun 11, 2009
First, in the interest of full disclosure, I work for a computer manufacture and live in New England; also I dislike my tax dollars wasted.
That said, consider the following:
- Companies that originally said they would use the computer may not now have the cash due to mismanagement on Wall Street.
- That the availability of the computer keeps Federal money coming to the Universities and National labs which helps NM economy.
- That the primary use of super computers is modeling and design; new companies and products *follow*.
The last point is particularly important. Drugs can take a decade before serious ROI begins. If someone at the University or a startup were designing an engine to give SUV's 50 mpg it would still be a couple of years to ROI.
Grant you, the article is a snippet, but it appears that the author doesn't appreciate when in the design cycle super computers are useful and the time lag before even revolutionary and very successful but highly technical products produce a good ROI.
All this should not be taken as arguing that the resource provided is being well managed; e.g., is the state willing to take stock so that cash strapped startup companies can get the time they need to design new products?
Tim Miles

Bowie, MD

#2 Jun 12, 2009
I think that you really don't understand supercomputing and the benefits that it has had for U.S. innovation and leading edge products that American firms have created and profited from over several decades.
JadedSupercomput erGuy

Melbourne, Australia

#3 Jun 12, 2009
Anyone who writes about 'super computer' in a supercomputer comment does not have any credibility in the market segment. They are not the same item.

“The Buybull is innerrrent.”

Since: Jun 08

Philadelphia, PA

#4 Jun 12, 2009
I am the editor or the Silver City Sun-News, and what our columnist was trying to say is that computers ain't in the Buybull.


West Hartford, CT

#5 Jun 15, 2009
- What's the utilization rate (on real work, not benchmarks or "keeping it warm")?
- What percentage of the compute time projected to be bought by industry actually was? How much of that was discounted below projections?

These centers get built get sized based on public funds and a target Top500 number. They get approved on "partner participation" (often little more than discounts off list price by the vendor selling the hardware) and the promise that "if we build it industry will come". Sooner realities like supply & demand, user learning curve, and the centers' unpreparedness for industry needs like security take their toll.

West Hartford, CT

#6 Jun 15, 2009
"Other supercomputers like this in other states are all paid for by those states...This one is unique; it will be self-sustaining. Other states can't say that." - Lorie Liebrock
Adrian in Tacoma

Federal Way, WA

#7 Jun 15, 2009
Why need a supercomputer when you can have several blade systems, and I've heard of the "self sustaining" before - can't be if made in America! I see parts contracts...

El Segundo, CA

#8 Jun 17, 2009
I have to wonder if this article would have been written if there was a Republican Govenor advocating the project.

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