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January 24, 1993

IBM “BOUNCES STEVE CHEN, SUPERCOMPUTER SYSTEMS”…

By CBR Staff Writer

The world has changed radically over the past five years since Cray Research Inc refugee Steve Chen set up his Supercomputer Systems Inc in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Cray is finding it harder and harder to grow its monolithic supercomputers as the world edges towards parallel systems with the view that they will be able to take over many of the tasks presently handled by today’s vector processors, and you can’t enter an IBM lab these days without stumbling over some kind of parallel processing development project. So it should come as no surprise that the New York Times, quoting people familiar with the project, should have reported on Friday that IBM, which can no longer afford to squander money on things that might come good, has decided to stop financing Supercomputing Systems. The company has several other industrial and government partners, including Boeing Co, Du Pont Co, Ford Motor Co and the National Security Agency, but IBM’s $100m-plus represents about half the total raised by the company, and IBM has also supplied top managers to the company. IBM had originally agreed to help finance the project through to the end of 1992, and has since been helping Supercomputing Systems to meet its payroll on a week-by-week basis. Supercomputing Systems declined to comment on its sources of money; IBM would not go beyond saying it had met its commitments. The company is said to be scouring the globe for funds and has retained Technologies, Strategies & Alliances in Menlo Park to look for a new partner to replace IBM, but the SS-1 is now not likely to come to market.

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