Bill directs DOD to focus on hardware

The Defense High-Performance Computing Modernization Program must take funding out of planned software development efforts and apply it to buying more supercomputers, under the Defense appropriations bill.

Some say Cray Research Inc., the nation's leading supercomputer supplier, lobbied for the shift. Cray officials were not available for comment, and the Modernization Program declined to comment.

The appropriations bill knocked the program's original $99.8 million budget for research, development, test and evaluation down to just less than $61.4 million. The House Appropriations Committee earmarked the resulting $38.5 million savings for the "procurement of hardware" and shifted it to the program's procurement budget, which, as a result, grew to $143.2 million.

According to the report, "The committee is concerned that the current program is inordinately focused on software development, training and administration. It proposed "funding shifts intended to ensure that a greater percentage of Modernization Program funds are spent on high-performance computer hardware and ancillary equipment."

Rep. Martin Olav Sabo (D-Minn.), a member of the House Appropriations Committee whose district includes Minneapolis, said in a statement that "the Modernization Program should become more narrowly focused on procuring computers and the related equipment need to solve real, military applications problems within the Defense Department."

The shift in funds is not a major blow to the program's software development efforts, said Debra Goldfarb, vice president of workstations and high- performance systems at IDC Research.

"I don't believe it will have measurable impact on software development, [but] I don't want to downplay it. Thirty million is 30 million," she said.

In addition, the committee shifted $20 million to fund the Army High-Performance Computing Research Center at the University of Minnesota, located in Minneapolis.

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