Coordinates: 40°05′43″N 88°14′31″W / 40.095391°N 88.242043°W / 40.095391; -88.242043

Blue Waters
The National Petascale Computing Facility, home of Blue Waters
SponsorsUS NSF and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
OperatorsCray Inc.
LocationUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Architecture49,000 AMD CPUs
237 Cray XE6 cabinets
44 Cray XK7 cabinets
Operating systemCray Linux Environment
Memory1.5 PB
Storage26.5 PB, 1.1 TB/s Sonexion storage array
Speed13.3 PetaFLOPS
PurposeScientific research

Blue Waters is a petascale supercomputer at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. On August 8, 2007, the National Science Board approved a resolution which authorized the National Science Foundation to fund "the acquisition and deployment of the world's most powerful leadership-class supercomputer." The NSF awarded $208 million for the Blue Waters project.

On August 8, 2011, NCSA announced that IBM had terminated its contract to provide hardware for the project, and would refund payments to date.[1] Cray Inc. then was awarded a $188 million contract with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to build the supercomputer for the Blue Waters project; the supercomputer was installed in phases in 2012.[2]


Blue Waters runs science and engineering code at sustained speeds of at least one petaFLOPS. It has more than 1.5 PB of memory, more than 25 PB of disk storage, and up to 500 PB of tape storage.[3] The file system running on this storage is the Cray Lustre parallel file system, which is capable of terabyte-per-second storage bandwidth. It is connected with 300 Gbit/s wide area links.[4]


A machine the scale of Blue Waters introduces special concerns with regards to cooling and power. A new National Petascale Computing Facility was built at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at the corner of Oak Street and St. Mary's Road. This facility houses Blue Waters and other NCSA computing, networking, and data systems. The 88,000-square-foot (8,200 m2) building has a 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) machine room. The facility has been certified LEED Gold.[5] The facility makes use of the university's campus-wide water cooling system and additional on-site cooling towers that will take advantage of the low temperatures in Illinois during the winter months to help reduce energy consumption. The building was designed using complex fluid dynamic models to optimize the cooling system. Energy efficiency at the data center is estimated to be in the 85–90% range, far superior to the 40% efficiency typically seen in large data centers.[6]

See also


  1. ^ Feldman, Michael (August 8, 2011). "IBM Bails on Blue Waters Supercomputer". HPCWire. Archived from the original on September 28, 2012. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
  2. ^ Wood, Paul (November 14, 2011). "Cray Inc. replacing IBM to build UI supercomputer". The News-Gazette. Archived from the original on November 1, 2020. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
  3. ^ "About Blue Waters". Archived from the original on September 3, 2014. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  4. ^ Humphries, Matthew (January 30, 2012). "Blue Waters petaflops supercomputer installation begins". Archived from the original on April 28, 2012. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
  5. ^ National Petascale Computing Facility Archived 2013-11-11 at the Wayback Machine. National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Retrieved on 23 OCtober 2016.
  6. ^ Prickett Morgan, Timothy (December 8, 2008). "IBM drops Power7 drain in 'Blue Waters'". The Register. Archived from the original on October 20, 2012. Retrieved January 26, 2013.

Further reading