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October 15, 2010

Supercomputer in the Works for Virginia

Tiffany Trader

For the first time, a Cray supercomputer could be housed outside a federal agency or university, according to an article at An $11 million supercomputing center is in the works for Danville, Virginia’s White Mill. If things go as planned, nonprofit technology company Noblis would partner with Cray to establish the center, which would be home to a $3 million Cray XMT supercomputer.

The Virginia Tobacco Commission’s Southside Economic Development committee is hoping that the supercomputing center will draw other high-tech companies to the area. The center would create an estimated 15 jobs with average salaries of $125,000.

H. Gilbert Miller, chief technology officer of Noblis, said the project could get off the ground within a year if startup costs are met. Once the center gets up and running, it would sustain itself through federal or national contracts and by applying for federal funding, explained Miller. The supercomputer would work toward solving problems related to national security or scientific applications such as DNA analysis.

Delegate Danny Marshall, who represents Danville in the General Assembly and serves on the Tobacco Commission, summed up the prospects for such a supercomputing center:

“You have high-paying jobs and they will attract other people here,” Marshall said. “It’s just about reinventing the economy.”

The news comes at the same time as the NOAA announcement that a $27.6 million supercomputing center will be built in Fairmont, W. Va. The NOAA Environmental Security Computing Center will be located at the I-79 Technology Park Research Center in Fairmont, W. Va., and will be dedicated to climate and weather research.

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