General Atomics and the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) have ended their 11-year corporate partnership at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC). Citing difference over the direction of UCSD's proposal for the Center's future, General Atomics last week informed UCSD of plans to submit, in competition with UCSD, its own proposal to participate in the National Science Foundation's Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure, slated to begin in fiscal 1998. LEADERSHIP & VISION Representatives from both sides attribute the dissolution of the partnership to an inability to agree on their respective roles in the future of supercomputing. "It was a question of leadership in the proposal," Linden Blue, vice chairman of General Atomics, explained during an interview with HPCwire. "General Atomics wanted an equal partnership with the university. But we could not resolve the question of our respective roles. So we had to go our separate ways." The choice of a Center director and intellectual property rights also contributed to the decision to proceed independently. "The two things we couldn't come to closure on was our choice of director and intellectual properties," Robert Dynes, UCSD's senior vice chancellor for academic affairs is quoted as having told the San Diego Union Tribune. Under its current agreement with General Atomics, UCSD has no claim for right to new technologies developed at the Center. SDSC, located at UCSD, was originally developed and then subsequently administered by General Atomics. It was sponsored by the NSF, the University, the State of California, and other agencies and private organizations as well. The Center provides computing resources for the military, universities and government agencies. Under the current partnership, the Center's staff is employed by General Atomics, while the scientists are employed by UCSD. Both UCSD and General Atomics say they will continue to work together until the current NSF program expires in September 1997. Talks between the organizations are expected to continue, and representatives from both sides say it is possible that General Atomics and UCSD eventually with work together when final proposals are submitted. NEW DIRECTIONS FOR UCSD Sid Karin, founding director of SDSC, will serve as director of UCSD's new thrust. "This enterprise offers to me an exciting new challenge to work with the full support of the University of California system, partnering with other major research institutions in leading the nation into a new era of high-performance computing," said Karin, who resigned as SDSC director last November. "I am thrilled by this opportunity." Karin was recently replaced by an Acting Director, N. Douglas Pewitt, who had served in a number of senior government positions, including the Office of Management and Budget, DOE (Department of Energy) and the Office of Science and Technology Policy, as well as SAIC (Science Applications International Corp.) (See HPCwire article 8330, "ACTING DIRECTOR APPOINTED TO GUIDE SDSC THROUGH KARIN'S DEPARTURE", 03.01.96.) According to a press release issued by UCSD, the University's proposal will strengthen the role played by the San Diego campus in the future of computational science by creating a physical and intellectual partnership between UCSD and some of the leading computational research centers in the nation. Dynes noted that the UCSD-led proposal would serve as a model for advancing the nation's computational resources in support of scientific research and economic progress. Among other things, that means having the ability to combine and balance the power of sometimes vastly different computational resources over long distance networks, and moving huge amounts of data among several sites for rapid viewing and manipulation. In an interview with HPCwire, Karin stated that he believes the University's proposal to the NSF is the strongest proposal that's going to come out of any university or institution in this competition. "I think we're going to win, and I'm excited about submitting the proposal and going forward after we win, in a new environment," he said. "My role is to define the successor entity, which has nothing to do with who's running the existing center...NSF has essentially implemented the recommendations of the Hayes Task Force. And those recommendations call for a new program. And I'm now architecting a new program to be responsive to that RFP (Request For Proposals)." Although Karin observed that the program would be strengthened if GA were included, he stated: "I'm not a party to those negotiations, nor do I want to be. I've got an interesting job. And I'm doing it under the leadership of UCSD, which I believe is appropriate." "It would be preferable to me if GA were supporting the UCSD effort, no question about it," he said. "On the other hand, we're going to win. That's my plan, and I'm quite confident about it; I feel very good about it." Under Karin's leadership, UCSD has organized a supercomputer consortium that includes all nine University of California campuses, three national laboratories and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. According to the UCSD press release, the new entity will be charged with aiding research and experimentation with new hardware and software -- including appropriate support technologies such as visualization and mass storage -- providing resources for applications and applications development for scalable high-end systems, creating access to unique experimental systems and facilities and promoting education and training in the use of computational resources. GENERAL ATOMICS General Atomics declined to offer specifics of its proposal or elaborate on its visions for the Center, but was confident of its position. "The Supercomputer Center is an enormously important resource," Blue observed, "In fact, it's one of the two finest centers in the nation. So it's important to come up with a winning proposal. And we feel ours has an excellent chance of winning." A STATEMENT FROM THE NSF While General Atomics and UCSD compete for future NSF supercomputing project funding, the Center continues under General Atomics management as outlined in its cooperative agreement with the NSF, and no changes are expected until 1997. The following statement was issued by NSF Public Affairs Officer Beth Gaston: "We here at NSF are aware of the situation at San Diego Supercomputer Center. Our cooperative agreement with GA for management of SDSC continues for another 18 months. We have approved Doug Pewitt as an interim center director, while GA conducts a national search for a new project director. We are also in the process of convening a review team to ensure that management is such at the center that service to the R+E community can be provided. "We have an obligation to the scientific and engineering community to provide a continuity of service -- to ensure that supercomputing resources are maintained. We also have an obligation to taxpayers to ensure that tax dollars are wisely spent. Our partner in the cooperative agreement is (and has been since the inception of the center) GA -- and we expect to work with them to meet these goals. "We have confirmed with GA that they may submit their own proposal for the new Partnerships program. We will review all incoming proposals -- with a peer review system -- to ensure that the best partnership proposals receive NSF funding." ---------------------------- Dianna Husum, editorial director, TGC, contributed to this article.