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A pound of flesh for Ranger delays

Michael Kanellos over at c|net’s News Blog had a brief dispatch yesterday on Ranger’s upcoming dedication. The piece is well done, and talks about the delays TACC has experienced fielding the system.

It’s nice to see someone write something about new systems deployment that isn’t all sunshine and bluebirds.

Delays? Barcelona was late and/or didn’t work, so there was that. I’m personally feeling the pain on this one with my 80 TFLOPS Cray XT4. Then there was Sun’s contribution

But it wasn’t all AMD, [John Fowler, executive vice president of systems at Sun] said. Constellation also sports a new type of cable, invented by Sun, which comes with three connections per cable. Manufacturing these cables, and then snaking them around the TACC center to link up computers, proved tougher than expected, he said.

Technical glitches also popped up with the Magnum switch.

Then Kanellos says something I find interesting

Even though Sun did have technical problems with its own computer, Fowler said that third-party suppliers would provide Sun financial compensation for delays, the normal arrangement in these types of contracts.

In my experience, this is most definitely NOT the normal arrangement for these types of contracts, at least not if Kanellos is talking about AMD. It’s actually not clear that he is; he could be talking about the subs Sun had building cables and the Magnum.

In fact I wrote about the need for HPC vendors to be able to put some chip vendor skin in the game at InfoWorld late last year. Until this happens the chips guys aren’t really motivated to care enough to make sure my$40M supercomputer isn’t 4 months late.

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