NMCAC Has New Mexico Lawmakers Worried

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The state of New Mexico’s $11 million supercomputing project, NMCAC, has lawmakers a bit worried.  According to the new New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee report, the center hasn’t yet generated the kind of revenue they expected.  All told, NMCAC cost the state $13.8 million to roll out but its only brought in roughly $300,000 in cash revenue.  They’ve generated other revenue in the form of in-kind services, but those services don’t keep the lights lit.

LFC chairman Luciano “Lucky” Varela, D-Santa Fe, said the supercomputer shows promise but needs to “start generating some dollars.” “It’s all nice and pie-in-the-sky, but we’re waiting to see when it is going to become self-sustaining.”

The machine has certainly been busy since its inception back in January of 2008.  Three research universities, two national labs and one nonprofit organization have been submitting jobs at no cost since July of 2008.  All the bad being said, NMCAC has quite a few supporters within the state.  A representative for Governor Bill Richardson had this to say:

That report is fundamentally flawed and flat-out wrong on most of its major allegations.” He added the supercomputer initiative “has already surpassed expectations and is off to a strong start.” A one-page response provided to the LFC from center officials said their revenues from sources other than the state are at or above projections. They also said there are 28 contracts pending to stabilize costs.

According to the report, however, the big question is the ongoing support and maintenance costs.

My questions are, how much more money are they going to be asking the state for to maintain it, to upgrade it, to move it … In these very tight, scarce money times, it’s about how can we make it selfsustaining.” If the project can’t pay its own way, the LFC report said, officials involved “may want to consider divesting the state of the supercomputer …” Original plan Richardson’s science adviser originally asked the Legislature for $42 million over six years for a 200-teraflop supercomputer project that included gateways to the national laboratories, New Mexico State University and the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro as well as other connections, the LFC report stated.

The state of New Mexico took a huge gamble with NMCAC.  This was the first super-scale, state-owned supercomputing resource in recent history [if ever].  They are, most certainly, braving new ground in operation high performance computing.  For more info, read the full article at TMCnet here.


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  1. Didn’t the LONI system Queen Bee proceed this as an ealier state-owned (Louisiana) supercomputing resource?

  2. John Leidel says

    Dan, to 100% honest, I’m not sure. I believe LONI requires the respective member organizations to contribute both with human and financial resources. In return for their pound of flesh, the state received Queen Bee [and the subsequent worker bees under contract from Dell].

    I’d love to have a voice from LONI [or any other organization for that matter] chime in. I’d be happy to post an update.