ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The state's $11 million supercomputer could be transferred to New Mexico's three research universities.
The Albuquerque Journal reports (http://bit.ly/PNRFZI ) that the transfer is pending a plan that would allow the universities to run it in a way that's economically feasible and without additional cost to taxpayers.
State Information Technology Secretary Darryl Ackley told the Journal he expects to see a joint proposal from the universities within a couple of weeks.
"I've told the universities I would certainly entertain that option if they do a proposal, but there can't be a budget increase," Ackley said. "I need something that shows they can take it on and sustain it."
The decision whether to sell the supercomputer to private bidders or turn it over to the universities will depend on the best return for the state, which paid $11 million in 2008 to buy the machine. It's no longer in the top 100 fastest in the world, its hardware is showing some age and its market value has slipped to a few hundred thousand dollars — even though it can do 172 trillion calculations per second.
The state also provided nearly $9 million to the New Mexico Computing Applications Center, a nonprofit that has managed it since 2008, to maintain and operate the machine and to set up gateways for public colleges and universities to access it for research and educational programs.
"The state has already sunk a lot of money into it, and we shouldn't do more," Ackley said. "But if they (the universities) can propose something that's reasonable and demonstrates some type of return, we'll certainly consider it."
Johann van Reenen, the University of New Mexico's vice president for research, said UNM is working with New Mexico State University and the New Mexico Institute for Mining and Technology in Socorro on a proposal.
"Ultimately, I think it's a loss if we don't keep it intact for the three universities and for commercial users, but funding is an issue," van Reenen said.
The supercomputer could leverage a lot more federal research dollars by making grant proposals from the universities more competitive. The Computing Applications Center said the machine has already supported $60 million in federal funding for research by faculty and students. It could also generate revenue from commercial entities and institutions that rent time on it.
The state is repossessing the machine from the Computing Applications Center, contending the center can't run the supercomputer profitably.
Information from: Albuquerque Journal
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