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Leaders in the field of supercomputing are arriving in Seattle this week for SC11, one of the biggest confabs for those interested in high performance computing. And as more than 10,000 attendees arrive for the conference — which begins today and runs through Friday at the Washington State Trade & Convention Center — Seattle’s hometown supercomputer giant Cray Inc. is making some waves.

The company announced today that it has finalized a contract with the University of Illinois’ National Center for Supercomputing Applications to provide a Cray XE6 supercomputer for the National Science Foundation’s Blue Waters project.

“Once fully deployed, the Blue Waters system is expected to have a sustained performance of more than one petaflops on demanding scientific applications,” Cray noted in a press release. The multi-year project — expected to be installed over the first three quarters at the University of Illinois — is valued at $188 million.

To put that number in perspective, Cray just reported that its revenue for the first nine months of the year was $144 million.

Not a bad way to start out a big conference in your hometown.

“We’re very excited to have been selected by the NCSA, NSF and the University of Illinois to deliver the Blue Waters system, which represents one of the largest contracts in our company’s history,” said Peter Ungaro, president and CEO of Cray. “Together with the recently announced $97 million contract to upgrade the ‘Jaguar’ system at Oak Ridge National Laboratories, these contracts demonstrate Cray’s leadership position in supercomputing.”

With the new contract, Cray expects revenue of $340 million to $360 million. The Blue Waters system is expected to bring in roughly 40 percent of the company’s revenue on the year.

The new supercomputer system, comprised of 235 Cray XE6 cabinets, will be used to conduct research related to climate change, earthquake damage and biotechnology.

UPDATE: Shares of Cray are up more than 11 percent so far today.

Here are the technology specifications of the new system from the press release:

  • Cray’s scalable Gemini high-performance interconnect, providing a major improvement in message throughput and latency.
  • 16-core AMD Opteron 6200 Series processors, selected by the editors of HPCwire as one of the top five new technologies to watch in 2011.
  • Cray XK6 blades with NVIDIA Tesla GPUs, based on NVIDIA next-generation ‘Kepler’ architecture, which is expected to more than double the performance of the Fermi GPU on double-precision arithmetic.
  • 1.5 petabytes of total memory (or four gigabytes per AMD Opteron 6200 Series processor core).
  • Cray’s scalable Linux Environment (CLE) and HPC-focused GPU/CPU Programming Environment (CPE).
  • A Cray integrated Lustre parallel file system with more than one terabyte-per-second of aggregate storage bandwidth and more than 25 petabytes of user accessible storage.
  • Up to 500 petabytes of near-line storage and up to 300 gigabits per second of wide area connections.
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