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U of I supercomputer running after project doubts

Caption
(David Mercer)
In this Monday. March 25, 2013 photo, Blue Waters project director Bill Kramer, right, describes some of the cooling equipment needed to keep the Blue Waters supercomputer running while National Center for Supercomputing Applications Director Thom Dunning looks on at the University of Illinois in Champaign. The $300 million project was recently completed, less than two years after it looked as if it might not be finished at all. (AP Photo/David Mercer)

CHAMPAIGN (AP) — The people behind the $300 million Blue Waters supercomputer project at the University of Illinois are celebrating this week.

The computer is now up and running. It is one of the world's fastest supercomputers and can maintain a speed standard known as a petaflop, which allows unusually complex calculations.

In late 2011 it looked like the project might never be finished. Original builder IBM pulled out and that set off a scramble.

Thom Dunning is director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the university. He admits there were real worries the project might stop.

But Cray Inc. took over and Blue Waters is now essentially complete. It's running about 30 projects exploring everything from earthquakes to space satellites.

Blue Waters will be officially launched in a ceremony Thursday.

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