In order to concentrate his efforts on design, Cray left the CEO position in 1980
and became an independent contractor. As he worked on the follow-on to the Cray-1,
another group within the company developed the first multiprocessor supercomputer,
the Cray X-MP, which was introduced in 1982. The Cray-2 system appeared
in 1985, providing a tenfold increase in performance over the Cray-1.
In 1988, Cray Research introduced the Cray Y-MP®, the world's first supercomputer
to sustain over 1 gigaflop on many applications. Multiple 333 MFLOPS processors
powered the system to a record sustained speed of 2.3 gigaflops.
Always a visionary, Seymour Cray had been exploring the use of gallium arsenide
in creating a semiconductor faster than silicon. However, the costs and complexities
of this material made it difficult for the company to support both the Cray 3
and the Cray C90ä development efforts. In 1989, Cray Research spun off the Cray
3 project into a separate company, Cray Computer Corporation, headed by Seymour
Cray and based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Tragically, Seymour Cray died of
injuries suffered in an auto accident in September, 1996 at the age of 71.
The 1990s brought a number of transforming events to Cray Research. The company
continued its leadership in providing the most powerful supercomputers for production
applications. The Cray C90 featured a new central processor with industry-leading
sustained performance of 1 gigaflop. Using 16 of these powerful processors and
256 million words of central memory, the system boasted unrivaled total performance.
The company also produced its first "minisupercomputer," the Cray XMS
system, followed by the Cray Y-MP EL series and the subsequent Cray J90.
In 1993, Cray Research offered its first massively parallel processing (MPP) system,
the Cray T3D supercomputer, and quickly captured MPP market leadership from
early MPP companies such as Thinking Machines and MasPar. The Cray T3D proved
to be exceptionally robust, reliable, sharable and easy-to-administer, compared
with competing MPP systems.
Since its debut in 1995, the successor Cray T3E supercomputer has been the
world's best selling MPP system. The Cray T3E-1200E system has the distinction
of being the only supercomputer to ever sustain one teraflop (1 trillion calculations
per second) on a real-world application. In November 1998, a joint scientific
team from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the National Energy Research Scientific
Computing Center (NERSC), Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and the University
of Bristol (UK) ran a magnetism application at a sustained speed of 1.02 teraflops.
In another technological landmark, the Cray T90 became the world's first
wireless supercomputer when it was unveiled in 1994. Also introduced that year,
the Cray J90 series has since become the world's most popular supercomputer, with
over 400 systems sold.
Cray Research merged with SGI (Silicon Graphics, Inc.) in February 1996. In August
1999, SGI created a separate Cray Research business unit to focus exclusively
on the unique requirements of high-end supercomputing customers. Assets of this
business unit were sold to Tera Computer Company in March 2000.
Tera Computer Company was founded in 1987 in Washington,
DC, by Jim Rottsolk and Burton Smith. They have served as President and CEO,
and Chief Scientist, respectively, since Tera's inception. Prior to starting
Tera, Rottsolk had been involved with several high-technology start-up companies,
and Smith had served on a number of prestigious technology committees and scientific
panels. The company moved to Seattle, Washington, in 1988.
Tera began software development for the Multithreaded Architecture (MTA) systems
that year and hardware design commenced in 1991. The MTA system provides scalable
shared memory, in which every processor has equal access to every memory location,
greatly simplifying programming because it eliminates concerns about the layout
of memory. It provides a very flexible and efficient approach to parallelism,
since any processor can operate on any data no matter where the data are located,
greatly enhancing applications with irregular or unpredictable data flow. The
MTA system software leverages the use of existing applications by analyzing
and automatically extracting parallelism. For example, some programs written
for existing vector multiprocessing systems are automatically translated to
run at high speed on the MTA with minimal changes.
The company completed its initial public offering in 1995 (TERA on the NASDAQ
stock exchange), and soon after received its first order for the MTA from the
San Diego Supercomputer Center. The multiprocessor system was accepted by the
center in 1998, and has since been upgraded to eight processors.
Now, after more than 10 years in development, the MTA systems are on the verge
of full-scale commercialization. The company has stated its goal to double the
number of processors every six months.
Cray Inc. (NASD: CRAY), formed from the March 2000 merger of Tera Computer Company
and Cray Research, is the global market leader in high-end supercomputers.
Cray Inc. is dedicated to helping customers solve the most-demanding, most-crucial
computing problems on the planet-designing the cars and trucks we drive, creating
new materials and life-saving drugs, predicting severe weather and climate change,
analyzing complex data structures, safeguarding national security, and a host
of other applications that benefit humanity by advancing the frontiers of science
Cray Inc. builds upon a rich history that extends back to 1972, when the legendary
Seymour Cray, the "father of supercomputing," founded Cray Research.
R&D and manufacturing were based in his hometown of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin;
business headquarters were in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
In 1996 Cray-computer sells her computers to foreign countries under the condition
that scientists from Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libia, North-Korea, Syria and Soedan
may not use any Cray computer.(2)
16 January, 2006
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Footnotes & References