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Center Dedicated at UCSD : Deukmejian Calls Supercomputer a Treasure for State

September 09, 1986|JEFFREY MILLER | Times Staff Writer

LA JOLLA — Gov. George Deukmejian formally dedicated the UC San Diego Supercomputer Center on Monday, hailing the $100-million facility as "a treasure of modern technology" that will "help keep California on the cutting edge of a fiercely competitive global economy."

Deukmejian's glowing remarks echoed those of other speakers involved in the development of the center, one of five federally funded supercomputer facilities nationwide.

Like the other speakers, Sidney Karin, the center's director, stressed the economic and political importance of the supercomputer, which can perform almost 1 billion calculations per second.

"Technology development has been the basis for maintaining the United States in a position of world leadership . . . in economic growth, social development, high standards of living, in national defense," Karin said.

"Other nations are beginning to challenge us in these areas and something must be done to reverse the tide. . . . That something is to make state-of-the-art computers available to the nation's researchers."

The National Science Foundation chose UCSD as the site of the only supercomputer in the Western United States in February, 1985. Construction of the center was completed nine months later and the center's showpiece--a $14-million Cray supercomputer--has been operating since December.

Kerry Dance, president of La Jolla-based GA Technologies, which operates the center under a contract with the NSF, said the center's greatest contribution will be to produce "a generation of researchers and scientists with hands-on experience with supercomputers."

Eventually, researchers at 160 universities and institutions "from Hawaii to Harvard" will be able to tie in to the supercomputer network, Karin said.

Using the supercomputer and its accompanying arsenal of mini-supercomputers, disk drives and data storage systems, researchers can process in a few minutes the same amount of information that would take days using a conventional computer. Among the supercomputer's possible uses are the study and prediction of earthquakes, the analysis of long-term weather patterns and the development of new drugs.

But most of the speeches at Monday's dedication ceremony emphasized the supercomputer's industrial applications, reflecting the private sector's role in funding the center. Of the $100 million required to build the center and operate it for its first five years, about a third has come from private business in the form of grants and research contracts.

Praising private industry for its contributions to supercomputer development, Tom Conally of the National Science Foundation board called the UCSD center "a visible symbol of remarkable cooperation between different components in our society."

However, UCSD Chancellor Richard Atkinson cautioned that government and business must commit themselves to continued funding for the project to be successful.

"This supercomputer center as presently configured is only a beginning," Atkinson said. "To stay at the forefront of technology will require the same pool of federal, state and private resources we've had so far."

Deukmejian said the state is committed to appropriating $1 million a year to the center for the next 10 years, adding that this was "a small price to pay" for the supercomputer's benefits. Any requests by the center's operators for additional funding "would be considered very seriously," he said.

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