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IBM Withdraws from Blue Waters Supercomputer Project

IBM has dropped out of the Blue Waters Supercomputer project going on at the University of Illinois' Urbana campus due to apparent cost and technical concerns.

But the university's National Center for Supercomputing Applications said the company's decision is not expected to mean a setback for water-cooled supercomputer. The contract was terminated Saturday.

A joint statement released Monday by the company and NCSA stated that the technology ultimately developed "required significantly increased financial and technical support by IBM beyond its original expectations."

NCSA spokeswoman Trish Barker said efforts to replace IBM are already underway.

"We definitely need to identify a different technology, a different hardware that will be used in this project," Barker said. "At this point exactly what that will be, because obviously we're really early on in that process. But it will be a pretty quick turnaround to identify a different technology that will be used."

Barker said she still believes Blue Waters has the same timeline, and should be operational by summer 2012.

She said NSCA entered a dispute resolution with IBM in April, but could not come to a resolution. She said this does not impact other projects on campus involving the computing giant. IBM will be returning the $30 million it has received to date for the project, and NCSA will return equipment delivered by IBM as part of the contract.

The project is funded by the National Science Foundation. An IBM spokeswoman couldn't be reached for comment.

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