Trio names new supercomputer after NCSA pioneer

Trio names new supercomputer after NCSA pioneer

CHAMPAIGN – If you're going to name something after Larry Smarr, why not a supercomputer?

Smarr – best known in Champaign-Urbana as the founding director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications – returned to town this week for a ceremony dedicating a supercomputer in his honor.

The idea sprang from the minds of Brian Kucic, Greg Keller and David Johnson, the principals of "R" Systems, a Champaign-based company that provides high-performance computer services to industry and academia on a pay-per-use basis.

"We're a spinout of NCSA, and we thought it would be an honor to Larry that we're providing supercomputing resources to industry," said Kucic, the company's vice president of business development.

Kucic said NCSA's supercomputer ranks No. 23 on a June 2008 list of the world's top 500 supercomputing sites, and "R" Systems' supercomputer ranks No. 44 on that list.

"For our small company to end up on that list with the fifth-fastest Dell machine and the fastest privately owned machine in the U.S. is pretty amazing, so in Larry's honor, we called it 'R' Smarr," Kucic said. "He got a kick out of that.

"If he didn't start NCSA, we would not be doing what we're doing," Kucic added.

A reception was planned for Smarr on Friday evening at the iCyt atrium in the University of Illinois Research Park, with several UI officials expected to pay homage. Among them: Avijit Ghosh, the UI's vice president of technology and economic development, and Ravi Iyer, the vice chancellor for research, as well as Peter Fox, founder of Fox Development Corp.

Since leaving NCSA, Smarr has been a professor at the University of California at San Diego and is founding director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology.

"R" Systems, a privately held company, got its start in early 2006 and has its office at 1902 Fox Drive, C, in the Corporate Centre office park. It also has a data center on South Oak Street in the UI Research Park.

Kucic, a former administrator at NCSA, once worked at the center with Smarr. Keller was formerly a system support engineer at Dell, and Johnson is "R" Systems' chief financial officer.