CXO Members advise on building a major regional datacenter Park in Wyoming
As a result of the CXO Technology Review Board's input and advice on building a major regional datacenter park, the Wyoming legislature has taken major steps towards making that vision a reality. In less than 12 months they have gone from a concept - developed around the CXO Membership's input, to securing the largest data center project in the region as an anchor tenant for the Office Park.
Already, additional facilities are being considered for the data center park, adjacent to the NCAR site.
NCAR facility bound for Cheyenne
The fastest computer in the West is headed to Wyoming.
Boulder's National Center for Atmospheric Research announced Tuesday it will build its new $60 million national supercomputing center in Cheyenne. The supercomputer will, NCAR officials say, keep the United States at the forefront of weather, climate and Earth-system science for decades.
It will replace NCAR's aging Mesa Laboratory center in Boulder, which will reach its floor-space and power-supply limits by the end of the decade.
The Wyoming proposal beat out a University of Colorado offer to host the new center.
NCAR officials say that, pending approvals from NCAR-sponsor National Science Foundation and the state of Wyoming, groundbreaking is expected this year, and the new center should open in late 2010 or early 2011.
Richard Anthes, president of the University Corp. for Atmospheric Research — which manages NCAR — said Wyoming's plan will roughly double the computing power possible with the CU offer, and in less time.
"The thing that tipped the balance was more computing power, faster, in Wyoming," Anthes said. "That had to be our major concern because we're a national center, and computing power is desperately needed."
The increase in power could help lead to "far more accurate forecasts of hurricanes" and more detailed simulations of the Earth's climate, NCAR officials say.
CU Chancellor Bud Peterson said that although losing the bid is a disappointment, the university plans to work with NCAR and Wyoming on aspects of the new center in such areas as biotechnology and space science. He said CU will be making a yet-undetermined "significant investment" in the supercomputing center and that CU scientists will in return get more computing time than the average institution.
CU offered a 13.5-acre parcel along Foothills Parkway on the university's East Campus as well as $5 million up front and long-term spending of about $30 million. But, as Peterson put it, "The state of Wyoming has tremendous resources."
Frances Draper, executive director of the Boulder Economic Council, said her organization supported the CU bid.
"We think NCAR and the computing facility are great economic generators in the state," Draper said. "We were just outgunned by Wyoming."
Revenue from oil and gas drilling have brought Wyoming large budget surpluses — enough that the state is socking away more than $300 million a year in a mineral trust fund.
Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal will give a news conference Thursday to discuss specifics of the deal. Wyoming officials have said the state donated land for the center in the North Range Business Park, west of Cheyenne, and the state will let NCAR issue bonds to pay for the facility. The bonds will be paid by future payments from supercomputer users.
University of Wyoming President Tom Buchanan said the supercomputing center and the relationship with NCAR will "allow us to reap extraordinary benefits in the long term."
Krista Laursen, who is managing the data-center project, said staffing remains uncertain but that 40 to 50 people will work in the new center, some who will relocate from Boulder.
She said the center's supercomputer will be able to perform hundreds of teraflops per second — a teraflop is a trillion floating-point operations per second — and speed up from there. The world's fastest machine as of November ran at 280 teraflops, according to supercomputing ranking site www.Top500.org.