In an effort to bring the Texas A&M University System's supercomputing capabilities — which A&M Chancellor John Sharp called "woefully inadequate" — up to speed, the system on Wednesday announced a new partnership with IBM.
"We believe that we are headed toward $1 billion-plus in research capability over the next several years," Sharp said, "and the computing systems that we have, I don’t believe, adequately support that."
IBM's involvement, and the new equipment the tech giant will provide, is expected to change that.
Sharp gave an example of a program that geoscience researchers at the flagship campus in College Station had taken weeks to run on the school's previous technology. "We hooked the IBM components up and it did the same thing in 17 minutes," he said.
As part of the partnership, IBM will not only provide A&M with more up-to-date supercomputing technology. It will also send up to 30 researchers to live in College Station and collaborate with A&M faculty. Together, they hope to pursue research and make strides in the areas of food sustainability, tracking the spread of disease, the development of new materials and energy resource management.
Sharp said the deal will bring A&M's computing power from below 500th in the world to "in the neighborhood of the 70s."
The news caught the attention of Gov. Rick Perry, a famously enthusiastic Aggie, who said in a statement, "Combining the incredible intellectual and technological resources of Texas A&M University and IBM will further position Texas as a leader in identifying and solving some of the most complex challenges we face."
Striking a tone reminiscent of the motto of the University of Texas at Austin, A&M's longtime rival, Perry added, "The work that will be done here will change lives and potentially save lives not just in our state, but our nation and around the world."