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January 3, 1988

IBM BANKROLLS CHEN TO BUY INTO SUPERCOMPUTING

By CBR Staff Writer

IBM has never quite got over the blow to its pride delivered by Control Data in 1964 when it introduced what was then the most powerful computer in the world – the CDC 6600, and in former Cray Research designer Steve Chen’s new Supercomputer Systems Inc company in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, it sees an opportunity finally to erase the slight. When Chen and Cray parted company after Chen’s parallel supercomputer project was cancelled – it had gone way over budget, Chen had the people he needed, knew the basic design of the computer he wanted to build, and a base for his new company – but there was considerable doubt that he would be able to raise the cash that he needed. IBM has now stepped in to fill the breach, and the two have preliminary agreement for IBM to provide Supercomputer Systems with initial funding; the two will also exchange technical information. Details of the partnership will be negotiated over the next few months, but the aim is to accelerate development of Chen’s parallel supercomputer by applying IBM’s technology. The plan is to build a machine with performance 100 times better than the 10GFLOPS peak of today’s fastest supercomputers.

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