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The original Cray-1 supercomputer, released in 1976.
The original Cray-1 supercomputer, released in 1976. (Courtesy: Cray)

Cray will try and reinvent itself for the cloud era with a new product that promises “supercomputing as a service.”

Cray, based in Seattle, unveiled the new Cray Urika-GX service Tuesday in partnership with Markley, a Boston-based data center provider that also offers cloud services to that area’s array of biotech companies. Cray put together a special package of hardware and software atop its Urika-GX supercomputer, which will be hosted by Markley and pitched to life-sciences companies.

Cray Urika-GX
The Cray Urika-GX, which Markley will host and offer its powerful capabilities as a service. (Courtesy: Cray)

The Next Platform notes that life sciences and biotech companies are particularly interested in the performance Cray’s Urika-GX and Gray Graph Engine — included with the service — can bring to their applications. But it’s not clear how much interest there will be from potential customers in other industries, especially because the companies haven’t released pricing for the service. Cray’s supercomputers can sell for millions; the company made news a few years ago by releasing an “affordable” $500,000 version.

Seymour Cray is a legend in high-performance computing, and while the company he founded has gone through a number of iterations as servers evolved over the decades, it’s still putting out some of the most powerful machines on the planet. The market for those machines is shrinking, however, as cloud services become more and more popular and powerful: Cray’s revenue and net income declined sharply in 2016 compared to the previous year.

Cray moved to Seattle in March 2000 when it was acquired by Tera Computer Company, which immediately re-named itself after the iconic brand. While Cray’s supercomputing cloud business isn’t likely to threaten Seattle neighbors Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure any time soon, it’s another sign that Seattle continues to be at the forefront of cloud computing.

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