More Beef on Butte

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The Montana Standard has an interesting perspective column on the recent news that the State of Montana will help fund a supercomuting center in Butte.  The Rocky Mountain Supercomputing Center [humming John Denver song] has driven some skeptics due to previous failed economic development projects in the area.  The state of Montana and IBM have dished out healthy servings of help in order to push the center into formal existence. According to the article, Montana has a special place in the heart of an IBM strategist.

Earl Dodd graduated from Twin Bridges High School and Montana Tech. He’s now a deep computing strategist for IBM Corp. in Texas and he’ll play a lead role, according to Jim Smitham, director of the Butte Local Development Corp. That’s reassuring. People with local roots are often behind our successful economic development efforts, such as ASiMI (now REC) and SeaCast.

The center is slated to open its doors in January of 2009.  This is quite a date considering their first machine will land on the dock December 27th.  They’re also currently seekign $380,000 from the Butte-Silver Bow to help cover operating costs until June of 09′, when the dollars from the state will kick in.

Done correctly, the center could prove to be a huge success for the State of Montana and the city of Butte.  I would suggest the folks at RMSC should call upon external industry experts to assist with the initial setup, configuration and management of human and computational resources.  I, for one, really want to see you succeed.

For more info on the news digs in Butte, read the full article here.


  1. Rich Hickey says

    Information from Roberta who attended the city council meeting tonight.

    Here is the info I got from tonight…the IBM is being delivered December 27th and it is a water cooled power 7 or whatever the heck you said. One step down from a Blue Gene. The RMSC is a non profit organization that will precipitate the clients and schedule time on the system as admistration for the system. The state is funding the program long term and will own the computer. MERDI is leasing the rack space for the system in the Thornton building.
    Funding is being provided by state and federal grants for the next 2 years, with the possibility of longer term funding.
    The US Air Force already has expressed interest in building a paramilitary medical rescue simulation center here in Butte, using the supercomputer…and Rocky Mountain Laboratory has already signed contingency contracts to use the system. Both state schools will, of course, have access to it.
    Several high profile people came out to support the project, including Dr Alex Philp, professor at MSU, Senator Jon Tester, Ray Rogers Vice President of the National Center for Health Care Informatics, Robert Rice of Neogents and of course, me.
    Several of the county commissioners still have reservations about supporting the project financially in such economic times, however have pledged to look into all funding sources the county has access to in the next 10 days. A vote is scheduled at the next meeting next Wednesday.
    Dr. Alex Philp said the funding will bridge the gap between the installation of the machine and the beginning of state funding in July 09. The funding will be used to provide operating capital and hire a center director.