State Set to Make Big, “Green” High Performance Computing Announcement: Effort to Bring Jobs to Western MA

6/9/09Follow @bbuderi

Updated with additional detail June 9, 8:10 pm; further update and a correction added June 10, 7:15 am—see below

A university, industry, and Massachusetts government coalition is set to announce a major initiative in high performance computing later this week, Xconomy has learned. Official sources are guarded, and specifics were hard to come by tonight. But a new center for high performance computing is apparently being planned for Holyoke, MA. A public event is planned for Thursday, with representatives of the state of Massachusetts, MIT, EMC, and a variety of others due to be on hand, according to our sources.

This paragraph added, June 9, 8:10 pm: The presidents of the University of Massachusetts and MIT, as well as leading executives of Cisco, are also involved with the effort, we have learned. And a centerpiece of the announcement is the creation of a data center that will bring jobs to Holyoke, an economically depressed region, our sources say.

Kofi Jones, director of Communications and External Affairs for the state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, confirmed that an announcement on high performance computing was scheduled for Thursday at Mt. Holyoke, but did not provide further details by the time of this post. We could not determine whether federal funding is part of the arrangement.

The new computing center is also intended to blaze trails in so-called “green” computing, according to our sources. This usually refers to getting more performance per kilowatt of electricity from computing systems. High performance computing systems are notorious energy hogs.

This section added, June 9, 8:10 pm: “It’s a big data center. What they’re trying to do is bring to Massachusetts companies like Google and Microsoft,” said a source, whom we promised not to identify. The source referenced the large data center operated by Google along the Columbia River in Oregon. “They’re trying to replicate this, I think, in Holyoke.” Holyoke is built on the banks of the Connecticut River.

A vigorous job training program is also part of the effort, our source said.

Update, June 10: An article this morning in the Boston Globe, which had apparently arranged with state officials to have an exclusive on this story before our article came out, confirms the basics of our report, but adds more details. It says the effort is expected to cost roughly $100 million, that it will seek federal stimulus funding, and that it will be managed by a collaborative led by MIT and the University of Massachusetts, with participation from EMC and Cisco. “At this stage, the partners have only agreed to participate in an intensive 120-day planning project that’s intended to work out details such as siting, organization, and funding,” the Globe says. “But the backers say the computer center will create an important resource for the state’s high-tech industry and academic institutions.”

Correction: A reference to Mt. Holyoke College in our original post was deleted as it became clear the center is being planned for the city of Holyoke and not the college as one source had seemed to indicate.

Bob is Xconomy's founder and editor in chief. You can e-mail him at bbuderi@xconomy.com, call him at 617.500.5926. Follow @bbuderi

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