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Award of $200M Supercomputer To IBM Proving Controversial

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the bidding-is-just-another-super-element dept.

IBM 114

An anonymous reader writes "According to documents accidentally placed on a federal government Web site for a short time last week the national science foundation (NSF) will award the contract to buy a $200M supercomputer in 2011 to IBM. The machine is designed to perform scientific calculations at sustained speed of 1 petaflop. The award is already proving controversial however, with questions being raised about the correctness of the bidding procedure. Similar concerns have also been raised about the award of a smaller machine to Oak Ridge national lab, which is a Department of Energy laboratory, not a site one would expect to house an NSF machine."

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Because... (5, Funny)

mr_beanz (677482) | about 7 years ago | (#20127423)

No-one ever got fired for buying IBM!

You forgot something... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20127447)

...no one ever got in trouble for taking your mom and you to the monster truck show.

Bigfoot, gravedigger, anyone? Grrrraaavvveeeddiiiigggggggggggeeerrrrr!!

Blue Gene/P (2, Interesting)

draxbear (735156) | about 7 years ago | (#20127533)

Seems a good bet it's a Blue Gene/P.
http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/217 91.wss [ibm.com]

Re:Blue Gene/P (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20127603)

Fuck off, astroturfer.

Re:Blue Gene/P (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | about 7 years ago | (#20128751)

Yeah, because word of mouth is what IBM needs. I mean, who's heard of THEM?

Re:Blue Gene/P (3, Insightful)

Mathinker (909784) | about 7 years ago | (#20127629)

If it's going to be installed in 2011, it's probably anyone's guess.

Might also be a second-generation Roadrunner [ibm.com] .

Got a good laugh about someone calling you on astroturfing, somehow I doubt Slashdot posts affect purchasing decisions on supercomputers all that much.

Re:Blue Gene/P (1)

TClevenger (252206) | about 7 years ago | (#20131677)

Yeah, brilliant move on IBM's part. Collect the money now, build a machine in 4 years for 1/10 as much as it would cost to deliver it, say, by Christmas.

Re:Blue Gene/P (1)

gothmogged (161673) | about 7 years ago | (#20132873)

It will not be BLueGene/P.

BlueGene/P will go online at Argonne this year. The NSF sustained petascale machine is targeted for 2011. We can safely assume that IBM won't get away with proposing to get $200 million to use today's technology for a machine 4 years in the future. Which means it is either BlueGene/Q or something from the IBM PERCS line.

The NSF solicitation can be found here http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2006/nsf06573/nsf06573.htm l [nsf.gov]

One controversy is that the NSF has already created supercomputer centers across the country which have enabled NSF funded scientists to do significant research. But this solicitation was not confined to them. It allows for significant NSF grant funding to be diverted to institutions not beholden to NSF, and not aligned with the interests of NSF funded scientists, such as the DOE funded labs. This engenders suspicion that the resources might be diverted from NSF's fundamental research towards the DOE's much narrower agenda.

Re:Because... (4, Funny)

obsolete1349 (969869) | about 7 years ago | (#20127571)

I did . . . Now I have to eat soup at the kitchen down the street... and to keep warm, I have to stand by a trash fire.

Re:Because... (1)

kryten_nl (863119) | about 7 years ago | (#20128477)

... but at least you have an iPhone to post on Slashdot with.

Re:Because... (1)

wezeldog (982156) | about 7 years ago | (#20128969)

Me too. Now I live in van down by the river...

Is there a supercomputer powerful enough... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20127513)

...to stop Zonk from posting boring, pointless articles?

I'd prefer if HAL didn't open the pod bay doors, if Zonk were out there.

The DOE bit (5, Insightful)

StealthyRoid (1019620) | about 7 years ago | (#20127559)

I don't know that having one of the machines at Oak Ridge is that big of a deal. One simple explanation is that the NSF is going to share time on the mainframe with the DoE, and in exchange, the DoE foots the energy bills and finds a place to put it. I'd rather have the agencies sharing multi-million dollar computers than buying them and not using them to capacity.

Re:The DOE bit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20127675)

Perhaps this is a foolish question, but are there a lot of dead cycles on a high end supercomputer? My perception (as a non academic) was that those things tended to be running at or near computational capacity virtually full time and that it'd take weeks or months to get time on such a machine for an arbitary research project.

Re:The DOE bit (2, Interesting)

vought (160908) | about 7 years ago | (#20127777)

Perhaps this is a foolish question, but are there a lot of dead cycles on a high end supercomputer?

Obviously you've never worked for a government contractor. A stage example:

1: CONTRACTOR, pacing in an untidy OFFICE filled with EQUIPMENT: "We need to order, configure and install this thing at 12/10s speed to meet deadline! Where the f*ck is the chimp from the CDW ads????"

  (CRICKETS sing ...six weeks pass)

2: CHIEF SCIENTIST, inside raised floor lab filled with immaculate, slab-sided computing machines: "Hey, can we use this thing to run some Mandelbrot sets?"

PHYSICAL PLANT GUY: "Not until we upgrade the chillers."
UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT: "I'm not sure we can afford that!"

3: TOUSLED-HAIRED SCIENTIST, in grimy, pizza and book-strewn home: "If only I could get enough cycles to build my next great open source project...we could save the world from the impending unnamed crisis! Crap!"

SCIENTIST'S CAT:(forbiddingly) "Meow-rarwerews"

4: BUSH SCIENCE ADVISOR in a rather spare-looking OFFICE without a COMPUTER: "Let's shut this (supercomputer) thing down. We can shunt the money off to a lobbyist, and rake in 200% on the backend for our downstream contractors. What, Lockheed is on the phone? Hang on..." FADE OUT

5: VIEW OF EARTH FROM ORBIT. EARTH BLOWS UP. (Maybe use coal dust as per George Lucas)

6: FIN

Re:The DOE bit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20128613)

Bwa ha ha! You are wasting your time tinkering with tech. You should be writing the screenplay for the (hip-hop and Osama-themed) remake of Strangelove (starring Vince Vaughn and an Affleck or two, natch -- with an expanded female role for J-Lo to play). :-)

Re:The DOE bit (3, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 7 years ago | (#20128795)

Clearly you haven't been around the Beltway.
Your little script makes no mention of Service Oriented Architecture.
If you're not buzzword-compliant, how can you be meaningful?

Re:The DOE bit (1)

ToasterMonkey (467067) | about 7 years ago | (#20132125)

You mean 'inside' the Beltway, right?

Re:The DOE bit (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 7 years ago | (#20132179)

Oh, if only the Beltway had contained the tumor!
No, the beaurocratic blight occupies a triangle stretching from Baltimore to Fredricksburg to Dulles.

Re:The DOE bit (2)

Gen.Anti (1089529) | about 7 years ago | (#20128963)

An open-source-writing outcast genius as the only positive character--the humanity's lost chance. The humanity gets punished.

You are so kind it's cruel.

Now I'm going to cry a little.

;-)

Why is this interesting (1)

ipjohnson (580042) | about 7 years ago | (#20129813)

It's not even funny.

Re:The DOE bit (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 7 years ago | (#20127897)

If they don't share the resources, there will be a lot of dead cycles.

That is why the GP suggested it as being a good thing that they are sharing it. And your right, it does take a long time to get onto these computers. This is because they are letting people use the extra cycles in between their need for all of them.

Re:The DOE bit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20128143)

> And your right, it does take a long time to get onto these computers.

That is my right, yes.

Re:The DOE bit (2, Informative)

mako1138 (837520) | about 7 years ago | (#20128125)

Most of the major research labs in the US are technically owned by the DOE, whether they're primarily weapons/classified research (Livermore, Los Alamos) or closely linked to academia (Berkeley, Fermilab).

The DOE and the NSF fund various projects (with some subject area overlap) but it's still up to individual scientists to write proposals asking for supercomputer time.

Re:The DOE bit (1)

battery111 (620778) | about 7 years ago | (#20129577)

The thing about DOE is that their primary business is nukes. They are in charge not only of all the nuclear power plants nation wide, but they also have a lot to do with our nuclear weapons. The oakridge facility is a main hub of this research, tracing back to the manhattan project. Therefore, a super computer makes sense, as nuclear physics is some pretty super-computery stuff.

Re:The DOE bit (1)

fractalVisionz (989785) | about 7 years ago | (#20130103)

Oak Ridge is not just DOE, it is a research center for many universities, including Georgia Tech and University of Tennessee to name a few. I for one have run computational genetics code on the supercomputer cluster at Oak Ridge as a Tech student, which was funded by a NSF grant. Therefore, NSF at Oak Ridge labs is nothing new or something to be surprised about.

Re:The DOE bit (1)

xcjohn (64581) | about 7 years ago | (#20131465)

This is a HUGE deal and, frankly, rather selfish of a DOE lab. There are a handful of non-DOE national labs out there that are struggling (I mean, very very close to closing doors) that needed this round of funding. Places like NCSA, PSC, SDSC. They're all shit outta luck now, cept for those NCSA jerks. Funny how NCSA suddenly got interested in very big iron when they've been keeping the mid-sized machines for the past decade..

The question is why not IBM? (4, Insightful)

siyavash (677724) | about 7 years ago | (#20127583)

The question is why not IBM? Who else can beat it (BlueGene) at that price? Seems like a pretty good deal to me. Although, government procedures are never optimal. Free market works far better and far more efficient.

Re:The question is why not IBM? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20127597)

Yeah yeah, free market of Microshit. The market is not free.

Re:The question is why not IBM? (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | about 7 years ago | (#20128785)

Yeah, I'm sure IBM pre-installs Vista on all new Super Computers.

Are you DENSE?

Re:The question is why not IBM? (0, Offtopic)

aichpvee (631243) | about 7 years ago | (#20127739)

Exactly! That's why we have the cheapest, highest quality health care system in the world!

Re:The question is why not IBM? (0, Offtopic)

sumdumass (711423) | about 7 years ago | (#20127841)

We haven't had a free market in the health care area for 50 years. It was probably the 60's or early 70's when government started controlling it so heavily that is wasn't free any more. You can look at the prices for hospital stay and procedures and see this too.

And if you really look at the cost, it still is cheaper then other places like Canada and england for some services. Look at the excess in taxes that they pay just to get the service they do. Now imagine the cost of that over a lifetime compared to the amount you would actually use. Unless you have something terribly wrong with you and don't die during the waiting period for specialized treatment, you would be spending a lot less in America over a life time. In all, their system is more or less government mandated insurance, you usually don't use more then you pay into insurance over the life time of the policy if you don't have something major happen.

Re:The question is why not IBM? (1, Offtopic)

AuMatar (183847) | about 7 years ago | (#20127961)

You're missing a few key points there.

1)Its cheaper than private insurance. No middle man taking a cut. And before you go into the government inefficiency bullshit, private corporations of a similar size are just as inefficient, if not more so.

2)You get better service, since that middle man taking a cut doesn't have a profit motive to deny you service.

3)Everyone actually gets treated, and has access to preventative care. This likely increases the savings from 1, as preventative care is far cheaper and lower risk than care late in a problem's life cycle. Think of it like a computer bug- the earlier you find it, the easier it is to fix.

4)Insurance is only as cheap as it is in the US because they force higher risk people to pay premiums they can't afford, or refuse them coverage at all. From a profit view this makes sense, but this means those who need care the most won't have coverage. It artificially deflates the true cost of insurance by biasing the covered towards fewer problems. This makes a straight out dollar to dollar comparison useless.

Re:The question is why not IBM? (0, Offtopic)

sumdumass (711423) | about 7 years ago | (#20128265)

OK, I'm not getting into a free health war. It isn't as cheep as you think. That's all. The vast majority of people could sack the equivalent of the extra taxes into an interest bearing savings account and give some money to their survivors after their death.

And no, It likely isn't cheaper then private insurance. You have taxes on your gasoline, tobacco products, food, income and most other items that pay for the health car. The US and Canada both spend about 7% of their GDP on health services for citizens and Canada funds about 70% of their health care the US only funds 50%. But Canada taxes their citizens about 10% of their GDP more then the US. Currently I believe it is at 37% of the GDP compares the the US's 27%.

Now the interesting part is that canada's GPD is $1,269,096,000,000.00 (USD) and there are roughly 32,982,900 people in Canada. So IF my math is right, and 10% of the GDP dived by the amount of people there, this works out to about $3848 per year in extra taxes per person which comes to around $320 a month per person.

Now, I understand that people who make more cover a lot more of the costs. But lets put this myth of everything being cheaper to rest. I picked Canada because I had the numbers close by for a project I am working on and I mentioned them in the post you replied to. Almost every could get health insurance in America for less then $320 a month per person covered. Especially if they went with the HSA and catastrophic insurance coverage. Mine is only $135/month for a smoker with a $1500 deductible that is sitting in a tax free savings account. I have a 5 million dollar payout so if I manage to stay under 5 million in medical expenses, I should be ok.

2)You get better service, since that middle man taking a cut doesn't have a profit motive to deny you service.
Almost every free health care system is full of stories and long waits and so on for procedures. It is commonly know that a lot of the wealthier people goto other countries to get around some of these rates. In england, there is a private system operating directly beside a public system for those who can afford it. In France, there are riots and property damage all the time because they don't like their health care system. In Australia, which is probable the most sane system, you can have private insurance and medical procedures on top of th public system and because the private stuff is limited in what it can do by the Government, it is more affordable.

)Everyone actually gets treated, and has access to preventative care. This likely increases the savings from 1, as preventative care is far cheaper and lower risk than care late in a problem's life cycle. Think of it like a computer bug- the earlier you find it, the easier it is to fix.
Change actually to eventually and I would agree. However, You should see above

Insurance is only as cheap as it is in the US because they force higher risk people to pay premiums they can't afford, or refuse them coverage at all. From a profit view this makes sense, but this means those who need care the most won't have coverage. It artificially deflates the true cost of insurance by biasing the covered towards fewer problems. This makes a straight out dollar to dollar comparison useless.
I agree that it is useless. In the first replay, I mentioned about the increased taxes levied on the citizens of canada. We could actually complicate it more by showing that about 50% of health care in the US is covered by the government where 70% in Canada is. When we add that to the mix, they are paying an extra $320 (USD) per month in Canada for 30% more coverage.

  Here is [wikipedia.org] an article from Wiki that has some of this information. Of course you need to take wikipedia with a gain of salt with it's history and all. I am for a public health system but the Idea of it being cheaper is just false. The vast majority of people would spend more then they ever would use if we had the taxes to support something like that. You are better off saving your money and taking other avenues for coverage.

And yet (0, Offtopic)

WindBourne (631190) | about 7 years ago | (#20128483)

What you missed in your report is that medicaid overhead is less than 5% (IIRC, it is around 2%), while insurance is around 30-40%. So how is it that USA spends less on medical than canada? Because, those that can not afford insurance do not buy it. These ppl literally die from lack of medical attention. Regardless, in this next election cycle, I think that we will see socialized medicine hit America. Why? Because businesses are all calling for it. They are saying that medicine is more expensive in America than any other country that they operate in. And that is from the fortune 100 companies, not mah/pah shop. Oddly enough, the same businesses that hated HRC's ideas in the early 90's, are apparently the same ones that are calling for her ideas. Weird.

Re:And yet (0, Offtopic)

sumdumass (711423) | about 7 years ago | (#20129255)

You missed the entire point. And you got a few of your points wrong to boot.

My point wasn't that America spend less, Of course they spend more, we have more people. There is almost 10 times as many people then in canada. The entire damn point was that you could buy it yourself. The socialized medicine costs more then it would if you turned the 3 cable pay channels off and didn't drink $200 a month in alcohol or drugs. The money has to come from somewhere, IT will be you anyways.

Because, those that can not afford insurance do not buy it. These ppl literally die from lack of medical attention.
I call bullshit. Bullshit bullshit bullshit. It is illegal for a medical facility to refuse emergency and life save procedures for anyone based on their ability to pay. This is a federal law, they are obligated to do something. If a person is dieing because of lack of Medical attention, it would by any normal consideration be a life threatening emergency. Plain and simple.

And it isn't people who cannot afford insurance. There is a slim minority of people who aren't covered by a state or federal program and that cannot afford treatments themselves. The sad part is, if the problem turns dangerous to be life threatening, they will slip into a covered class really fast.

People can often afford insurance but chose on their own free will not to purchase it. My medical insurance costs less then my old cable package when I had cable. It is about priorities. And if you think you will still be able to get all the pay channels and have all the extra spending money once socialized medicine comes around, your stupid because they will have to pay for it and it will tax you.

Yes, And they are liking Mrs. Clinton's Ideas now because they aren't the same rejected ones of the 90's. They are the George Bush style plans that strongly favor the providers and drug companies. Of course they will be in favor of them when they make out like a bandit.

Personally, I don't care if socialized medicine comes around. I doubt it will be in the next election cycle or two. It will take longer then that to figure out how to pay for it without bankrupting everyone in America at the same time. We don't need another 1970's style Carter plan where 70% taxes and giving banks added leeway on real estate bankrupted the banks as well as most people living the tradition single working provider family. Even if we have a commitment to socialized medicine, it would be another 8-10 years before something could both be in place, funded and effective for everyone.

Re:And yet (1)

aichpvee (631243) | about 7 years ago | (#20129413)

My point wasn't that America spend less, Of course they spend more, we have more people.

We spend more per person, moron. A lot more.

'PER PERSON' you dumb-fuck! (0, Offtopic)

FatSean (18753) | about 7 years ago | (#20129789)

What the fuck kind of 'geek' are you anyway? Fucking imbecile...

Re:And yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20129793)

You have truly lived up to your name.

Because, those that can not afford insurance do not buy it. These ppl literally die from lack of medical attention.

I call bullshit. Bullshit bullshit bullshit. It is illegal for a medical facility to refuse emergency and life save procedures for anyone based on their ability to pay. This is a federal law, they are obligated to do something. If a person is dieing because of lack of Medical attention, it would by any normal consideration be a life threatening emergency. Plain and simple.


This is just stupid. The simple fact is, that a lot of small non-"life threatening" conditions can and do add up until someday you find yourself dead. A lot of people have their lives shortened or otherwise curtailed by non life threatening conditions. You're saying there's no moral need to take care of people unless they are in imminent danger of dieing. This is just wrong. There have also been a number of news stories of people dieing after being turned away from medical facilities - but you may not have heard those reports if you only get your news from Fox.

And it isn't people who cannot afford insurance. There is a slim minority of people who aren't covered by a state or federal program and that cannot afford treatments themselves. The sad part is, if the problem turns dangerous to be life threatening, they will slip into a covered class really fast.

See above, dumass. (I can call you that, and it's not an ad-hominem attack because you chose the name; quite delicious, thank you)

People can often afford insurance but chose on their own free will not to purchase it. My medical insurance costs less then my old cable package when I had cable. It is about priorities. And if you think you will still be able to get all the pay channels and have all the extra spending money once socialized medicine comes around, your stupid because they will have to pay for it and it will tax you.

What the heck are you smoking. Where does this nonsense come from?

Personally, I don't care if socialized medicine comes around. I doubt it will be in the next election cycle or two. It will take longer then that to figure out how to pay for it without bankrupting everyone in America at the same time.

No, how about we just study the way other countries do it? That won't take more than a few years.

We don't need another 1970's style Carter plan where 70% taxes and giving banks added leeway on real estate bankrupted the banks as well as most people living the tradition single working provider family.

Why not set something up similar to what they have in other countries that are doing health care successfully? What is so fucked up about this country that if a country like Canada, or the UK, can do national healthcare, but the USA is incapable of it? Is this country that badly put together that it can't do something similar to how other countries are handling it? Are you saying Canada is a better country than the USA? Maybe you should move to Canada if you think this country is so messed up it can't create a workable system of healthcare for its population. We don't even have to come up with a new system, you could just pick a system from another country and copy it. It's not that hard and we're not so stupid a country that we couldn't do that.

Even if we have a commitment to socialized medicine, it would be another 8-10 years before something could both be in place, funded and effective for everyone.

There's a light bulb that's burned out in my office, but why bother changing it? Even if I do, it will take so many microseconds for the new bulb to light that it's hardly worth it. What The Fuck is wrong with you that you think this is a valid argument? Do you not understand that even if it did take 8-10 years, there will still be people around after that? Hopefully, most of this country's history will occur AFTER that period. Wouldn't it be nice if most of the people who are going to be here for it could be healthy, too?

The reality is that you're just a mean, cheap, bastard who doesn't care one whit about his fellow man. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Or maybe you just own stock in a health insurance company.

Re:And yet (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 7 years ago | (#20132763)

This is just stupid. The simple fact is, that a lot of small non-"life threatening" conditions can and do add up until someday you find yourself dead. A lot of people have their lives shortened or otherwise curtailed by non life threatening conditions. You're saying there's no moral need to take care of people unless they are in imminent danger of dieing. This is just wrong. There have also been a number of news stories of people dieing after being turned away from medical facilities - but you may not have heard those reports if you only get your news from Fox.
No, I am saying there is no moral need to take care of someone who refuse to take care of their self when they had the opportunity to. And if they continue to put it off and then don't goto the hospital, they deserve what they are doing. And they are doing it, not me or you.

Now, as for the news stories about people being turned away to die because they cannot pay. This shouldn't be the case since 1985 and forward. In 1985 The federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act of 1985 (EMTALA) was passed into law which is landmark legislation that mandates that all patients seeking emergency treatment receive an adequate medical screening examination and that they not be discriminated against because of inability to pay (1).

It is illegal for any medical facility that accept medicade/medicare in the US to refuse treatment for emergency treatment based on the ability to pay. I have seen these stories of someone dieing because they didn't have insurance all over the place. But I see them in several distinc places with no links or evidence to back them up. These stories are generally repeated by people who have something invested in getting the system changed. IF it actually happened, it would ne news all over the place, the doctor himself would be fined, the hospital would be fined, and both would lose the ability to collect federal funds again. It would destroy most hospitals and doctors. It would be a hige nation wide story because of all that it would entail, Not to mention the lawsuit the family would be launching and the phone number style settlements that would be paid.

It is basically a lie, I have seen it in some made for TV fictional movies and I have seen it taken out of context where the conscious guardian of a person had refused further treatment because it would ruin their credit. But I have never, ever heard of a legit case after 1985 where this has happened. Almost every hospital has a patients rights pamphlet or something on their website describing this.

See above, dumass. (I can call you that, and it's not an ad-hominem attack because you chose the name; quite delicious, thank you)
Actually, I think you would need the B in dumb for it to be name calling, it doesn't offend me. I do prefer to be called sumdumass though. But if you insist, I won't make an issue of it.

What the heck are you smoking. Where does this nonsense come from?
What? IT is a simple fact of circumstances. People that cannot afford insurance and are considered in poverty are covered by a government program. Well all but a small minority of people who are single and over 18 in most areas. Minimum wage is 5.25 or was until recently, but a living wage is more to the likes of $7-$10 and hour which is what we are seeing now. It still isn't enough to live on your own so you have a roommate of live with your parents, so your basically dropping your living expenses in half. You can/should be able to get a high deductible insurance policy for about $100-$200 a month (mine with a $1500 deductible is only $135 a month), the same costs as cable TV and Internet or basically the cost of a date or night on the town. I have the $1500 sitting in a tax free account and put it in there by depositing $20 a month and tossing half my tax return into it at the end of the year.

It is quite simple, If you cannot afford something like that, it is because you are spending money you don't need to spend somewhere else. The question is, if money is that tight, do you need a brand new car or would a used one work. Could you use your old car a few more years, Do you need Cable TV with Pay channels and internet more then insurance? Do you need whatever luxury above your basic living expenses. Do you need to live in a house that costs more then 25% of your income more then you need insurance? If you chose any of the above over your insurance then you made that decision.

Why not set something up similar to what they have in other countries that are doing health care successfully? What is so fucked up about this country that if a country like Canada, or the UK, can do national healthcare, but the USA is incapable of it? Is this country that badly put together that it can't do something similar to how other countries are handling it? Are you saying Canada is a better country than the USA? Maybe you should move to Canada if you think this country is so messed up it can't create a workable system of healthcare for its population. We don't even have to come up with a new system, you could just pick a system from another country and copy it. It's not that hard and we're not so stupid a country that we couldn't do that.
My biggest problem isn't changing the health care system. It is th idea being past off that it will be free health care. People will have to pay for it. Taxes will be increased, you can expect to see lower refunds or having to pay even more in. The entire Idea behind comparing Canada's system was to show there will be a cost that we, like other countries, will have to cover. This isn't what is being presented to people. They are being told they will get free medical coverage. Well, on average, Canada takes the equivalent of 3000 some odd dollars per person more then the US to provide the free health care. Almost anyone should be able to afford $3000 a year for insurance.

There's a light bulb that's burned out in my office, but why bother changing it? Even if I do, it will take so many microseconds for the new bulb to light that it's hardly worth it. What The Fuck is wrong with you that you think this is a valid argument? Do you not understand that even if it did take 8-10 years, there will still be people around after that? Hopefully, most of this country's history will occur AFTER that period. Wouldn't it be nice if most of the people who are going to be here for it could be healthy, too?
Obviously your missing a big point here. It isn't about changing it. It is about your statement of changing it tomorrow after the elections when It would take several years if not a decade to do without causing more problems.

The reality is that you're just a mean, cheap, bastard who doesn't care one whit about his fellow man. You should be ashamed of yourself.
I know it is dificult to understand. I'm quite astounded at how many people missed the entire point of my post and went into the rebuttal knee jerkingly motivates reactions of defending a position I never made. I'm not against changing the system. I am against selling it on the false promise of free health car. It cannot be free by any extent. It just won't happen. I stated at the very beguning I wasn't getting into the merits of public heath care. It wasn't my point ever. It is that it casts more then people are willing to admit and most people can afford it now if they gave something else up. In fact, using Canada as a guide, you could sack more money away that would be yours and not the government's and for the most part, not use as much as you saved because of medical expenses. Some people would spend more then they could save, but the vast majority of people would save more the the costs.

A 20 year old person sacking just $2000 a year into a savings account making 5.5% for 40 years or until they are 60, because of compound interest they would have a total of $305,264.46 at that time. Now if that happened to be $3000 a year, they would have about $457,896.69. Of course this would change if and depending on how much, you would need to use for medical expenses during that 40 years. Outside some common colds and OTC medication, I haven't had too many problems except a back injury that happened at work (workers comp covers that). I'm 36 yeard old, half way there. There is nothing super human about me and most people would be in a similar situation. I seriously don't think I would be into half a million dollars of medical expenses. I could be wrong though.

I think Medicare spends between $14000 and $25000 per person in the first year of a heart attack, It is less after wards.

There is nothing I should be ashamed about in relaying what it would/could cost.

Re:The question is why not IBM? (0, Offtopic)

operato (782224) | about 7 years ago | (#20128601)

you can't generalise taxation. taxation varies so much between countries and what the tax revenues are spent on varies a lot too.

the free health care system in the UK, NHS, is only so because of government policy (total neglect and failure to adapt) and that's why there are long waiting times, etc. however, when you say you can have private and public systems in place together, it doesn't always work. public health services take the brunt of the stuff that private health clearly will not touch because it is not profitable. thus making the system even more complicated than if it were just a public health system. anyways, it's the public health system that trains up all the doctors and nurses that work in the private sector anyways (especially in the uk).

if you go back to economics and externalities, health care is a merit good. people should consume more of it and without government intervention there would be under consumption of health care. public services are here to stay and people should invest their money into public health care as private health is just a waste of money for the whole economy.

Re:The question is why not IBM? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 7 years ago | (#20129453)

you can't generalise taxation. taxation varies so much between countries and what the tax revenues are spent on varies a lot too.
Yes, I believe I mentions this. I even said it wasn't an accurate because those making more pay more. But one of the pages I linked to which has/had the same information I have, drew the conclusion of how much was spent on health care. It specifically compare the US and Canada.

the free health care system in the UK, NHS, is only so because of government policy (total neglect and failure to adapt) and that's why there are long waiting times, etc. however, when you say you can have private and public systems in place together, it doesn't always work. public health services take the brunt of the stuff that private health clearly will not touch because it is not profitable. thus making the system even more complicated than if it were just a public health system. anyways, it's the public health system that trains up all the doctors and nurses that work in the private sector anyways (especially in the uk).
Government in general fails to adapt appropriately in many ways and far too often. This isn't the problem as I see it. The problem is more to the point that all of the main and often cited health care systems that are run by the governments. You can find excuses for the UK but what are the ones for AU, CA, and all the rest.

I am familiar with the problems of the mixed private and public systems. That is why I think Australia's system seems to be the most competent out there. It actually forbids the private system from certain procedures and treatments. They mainly focus on elective procedures and stuff like that. I'm sure there is more they can do that I am giving them credit for but you should get the idea.

if you go back to economics and externalities, health care is a merit good. people should consume more of it and without government intervention there would be under consumption of health care. public services are here to stay and people should invest their money into public health care as private health is just a waste of money for the whole economy.
What most people fail to realize, And I think I am just in including you into that category, IS that public health is nothing more then a Giant insurance policy with a heavily regulated medical system. Even when there is a private system in with it. The public part is just regulated by the fedral government on a much larger scale. People think that there isn't a price to pay for this service. If Canada taxes 10% more compared to thier GDP then the US to provide coverage for 70% of the medical expenses, Then the US is going to need a large amount more money when the population is 10 times that amount.

Switching to a public health care system in America isn't going to be those without coverage automatically having it and that's all. It is going to be a tax increase with 1-3000 of their income disappearing to fund it. Many people are going to be inconvenience's in their life styles and for the most part it is going to be because they think that spending their money in different ways then on medical insurance is the right thing to do. The only different now is that the government is going to be taking the premium before they get the money and in most cases, they will still be without something.

Personally, I think something like Rudy Giuliani's plan would work the best. It involves giving vouchers and even tax credits for private insurances that you purchase and keep. It places a small burden on the employer for part of this but that burden changes and you can Keep your coverage no matter what employer you have. It places some restrictions on the insurance company's ability to deny treatments and best of all, it get phased in over a period of time. The poor already have coverage. Children in almost every state already have coverage. I think this plan would work and amount to the same public health system. I watched an interview on PBS with him and it really made sense while having fixes for the majority of people's criticisms of socialized medicine.

Re:The question is why not IBM? (0, Offtopic)

encoderer (1060616) | about 7 years ago | (#20129207)

Wow... so much stupidity.. so little time....

1. First of all, the countries you're talking about -- Canada, UK, etc -- have a SINGLE PROVIDER system. That is, there is a single provider of healthcare coverage, in the form of Gov't run hospitals and clinics, and you go to them if you want free care. (Yes, in the UK there are private clinics and hospitals, but only for those that can pay cash)

Nobody has EVER suggested that the US be a SINGLE PROVIDER system. The idea has always been a SINGLE PAYER system. That means private enterprise still is responsible for delivering services. The difference is at the "insurance" level. Some plans call for the elimination of insurance companies, with Medicare expanding to cover everybody. Other plans call for the existing insurance companies to stay in place, the only diff. being that instead of your employer paying the premiums, the government will pay them.

BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SINGLE PROVIDER AND SINGLE PAYER.

2. The history of employer-funded heathcare in this country is not exactly an idea endowed from our founding fathers. It's only been postwar--since the 1950s-- that the tax code was changed to reward companies for paying premiums. This made a LOT more sense in the days of career employment than it does today.

3. The GOP--during their 7 years of hegemony--had a great idea: Since the freemarket is supposed to bear fruits of efficiency, why don't they take the amount they're currently paying for some people on medicare, and, instead, give 95% of that amount to a private insurer, giving the citizen that would usually have Medicare actual private insurance that's paid for by the gov't at a rate cheaper than Medicare would otherwise pay.

Their idea was that if their theory held, the private companies could deliver services cheaper than Medicare itself can, which would allow them to expand this program to EVERYONE. Furthermore, they thought that it would be so efficient that they could even cover things that Meicare can't, like dentures and such.

Do you know what happened? Months into the program, they couldn't find hardly any insurers willing to insure these people at a cost of 95% of Medicare costs for that same person. So the congress upped it. First to 100%, then to more than 100%. That is, they were paying private insurers more to take care of a person that was previously on Medicarae than it was costing Medicare itself to take care of that person. Again, they felt that SURELY the freemaket would delvier, if only they gave it chance.

It didn't.

The Medicare Advantage program FLOPPED.

At the end of the day, the "Free Market" just couldn't deliver services cheaper than Medicare itself could.

4. The amount people pay for healthcare cannot be simply compared to Canada or anywhere else because so much of the cost is paid by employers. How much more competitive would our corporations be without this burden? Practically none of their overseas competitors carry those costs. How do you quantify that? How much more wealth would there be in the pockets of Ameircan employees and investors if our corporations were relieved of this singulary burden? How much higher would your wages be?

5. At the end of the day, we're ALREADY PAYING FOR EVERYONE TO GET HEALTHCARE. Anybody, no matter how destitute, can walk into your county general hospital and get care, and the bill is footed by the state. So you're ALREADY PAYING. Except, instead of treating the infection when it starts, at a cost of, say, $200, you're treating it after it's spread to the whole arm and requires an amputation at the cost of $10,000. Etc.

And no matter how much you dislike that fact, THERE IS NO OTHER OPTION. Because if you just stopped treating people that didn't have coverage, disease would fester. A true sub-class would emerge with ghettos full of truly sick people. It would be the 19th century all over again.

So let's ACKNOWLEDGE that we're ALREADY PAYING FOR THIS and let's focus on preventive care and early treatment that will reduce the costs to deliver healthcare to the poorest among us.

6. I can think of no good reason that, in the wealthiest nation in all of history, anybody should worry about getting the treatment they need. You can pout all you want about percentage of GDP paid in taxes, but that would seem pretty fucking stupid to you, I'm sure, if it was YOU or YOUR LOVED ONES that you lost due to the capitalistic heathcare system in this country.

It's time for America to align with the thinking of the rest of the modern world. There are a LOT of different approaches to national healthcare. Japan, Germany, Candada, UK, France, all of them are different, all of them unique in some way. The American system can be made into what works best for America. It doesn't have to be a copy of any of these. To wit, America doesn't usually COPY any other country, we usually lead.

So lets lead on this. And lets acknowledge that the current system is NOT what works best for America, you, I, the corporations we work for, or the people we love.

Re:The question is why not IBM? (0, Offtopic)

sumdumass (711423) | about 7 years ago | (#20131615)

Wow... so much stupidity.. so little time....
I know the feeling. I'm wondering why your adding to the problem though?

Nobody has EVER suggested that the US be a SINGLE PROVIDER system. The idea has always been a SINGLE PAYER system. That means private enterprise still is responsible for delivering services. The difference is at the "insurance" level. Some plans call for the elimination of insurance companies, with Medicare expanding to cover everybody. Other plans call for the existing insurance companies to stay in place, the only diff. being that instead of your employer paying the premiums, the government will pay them.
It doesn't matter, The effect is going to be the same regardless. The money will have to come from somewhere and it will be your pocket. Well, rather your paycheck because they like to get this stuff before you can miss it as often as possible. It really changes nothing I what I posted except maybe the degree to which it will effect you. But anyone wishing for this is foolish to think it won't cost them more money over their life time in increased taxes then they are likely to use from the system. They are even more foolish if they think they will have the same amount of disposable income to blow on things other then their insurance. It would be taken from them before they get it.

I don't see anyone cutting education, national security, the military or anything else in the near future to pay for a program like that. And if the cut anything, it would likely be the military budget and that would get those responsible turned out on their but the very next chance the voters get. They know this and this is why they will not defund the military like they did during Vietnam. The hippies and draft dodgers of the 60's have for the large part, grown up.

The history of employer-funded heathcare in this country is not exactly an idea endowed from our founding fathers. It's only been postwar--since the 1950s-- that the tax code was changed to reward companies for paying premiums. This made a LOT more sense in the days of career employment than it does today.
Any funded healthcare other then funded by yourself is not exactly an idea endowed from our founding fathers. I don't see why this would even come up?

More specifically, I was only showing that the free gift from the government will not and can not be free. It will carry a price in the form of taxes. I believe I said at the very beginning of that post, OK, I'm not getting into a free health war. It isn't as cheep as you think. That's all.

Yep, I think so. I guess I will reply to some of your other arguments as long as it is indirectly connected to my assertion of The vast majority of people could sack the equivalent of the extra taxes into an interest bearing savings account and give some money to their survivors after their death.

The GOP--during their 7 years of hegemony--had a great idea: Since the freemarket is supposed to bear fruits of efficiency, why don't they take the amount they're currently paying for some people on medicare, and, instead, give 95% of that amount to a private insurer, giving the citizen that would usually have Medicare actual private insurance that's paid for by the gov't at a rate cheaper than Medicare would otherwise pay.
That sounds like a good Idea. I'm not against doing something with the health care system. What I am against is the idea that somehow people won't notice a difference in their standards of living because they can still go out and buy all the cable channels, boats, motorcycles, second cars and recreations vehicles or whatever else that has a higher priority then medical insurance with the government magically picking up the tab and no cost to them.

However, I don't think taking what goes into medicade and using it to provide coverage for the remaining 50% of the people without government funded health coverage. That right, the estimated amount of health care cost pick up by the government though either Medicare or medicade is 50%. The problem here is that in order to be eligable for either program, your already in the highest risks with claims already happening. I don't think private insurance could cut costs on those people any more without bring money in from other places or denying treatment to people. The Government funded medical expenses as of right now aren't some account they put money into in case someone needs to make a claim. The expense is from claims themselves. So shifting money away will cause some issues with people already getting the services.

Do you know what happened? Months into the program, they couldn't find hardly any insurers willing to insure these people at a cost of 95% of Medicare costs for that same person. So the congress upped it. First to 100%, then to more than 100%. That is, they were paying private insurers more to take care of a person that was previously on Medicarae than it was costing Medicare itself to take care of that person. Again, they felt that SURELY the freemaket would delvier, if only they gave it chance.
That is because the Medicare ws paying claims not building a safety net. How would you view something if it was already costing $100 to meet the obligations and I asked you to take it over for $9.50? I doubt you would do much on this.

At the end of the day, the "Free Market" just couldn't deliver services cheaper than Medicare itself could.
First, there hasn't been a free market in the health care industry in over 50 years. Second, See above.

The amount people pay for healthcare cannot be simply compared to Canada or anywhere else because so much of the cost is paid by employers. How much more competitive would our corporations be without this burden? Practically none of their overseas competitors carry those costs. How do you quantify that? How much more wealth would there be in the pockets of Ameircan employees and investors if our corporations were relieved of this singulary burden? How much higher would your wages be?
My compaison wasn't directly comparing the amount people pay in canada. It was comparing the amount they pay through taxes to their GDP which would create somewhat of a static line in comparison to what we might have to pay. We have 10 times the population and 10 times the GDP, It is a fair comparison to what we would have to give the government in order for them to take over. But everyone keeps saying that health care in the US is more expensive so my estimate were probably low. But the point wasn't to say Canada is better or worse, IT was to demonstrate that we will have to be taxed in order to pay for the free or public health care.

Are you disagreeing with that?

At the end of the day, we're ALREADY PAYING FOR EVERYONE TO GET HEALTHCARE. Anybody, no matter how destitute, can walk into your county general hospital and get care, and the bill is footed by the state. So you're ALREADY PAYING. Except, instead of treating the infection when it starts, at a cost of, say, $200, you're treating it after it's spread to the whole arm and requires an amputation at the cost of $10,000. Etc.
No, It isn't that bad for the majority of cases. My mother works in the country hospital as well as my grandmother for years before that. My mother is in the emergency room. She complains all the time that they are backed up with 4 and sometimes 8 hour waits because people with the medical card use it as a primary care physician (family doctor). If they went to a regular doctors office for many of these problems, minus the 2 week wait with cold medicine phoned in to the pharmacy, it would save the process roughly $80 a trip. But they are doing it even worse. They go in claiming of some sickness that the symptoms don't match in order to seek out drugs or get a doctors excuse for calling off of work the day before. They aren't waiting until it is too bad. In most case that you are talking about, those people could have had insurance and the money to be seen before it got bad but chose to spend it in other ways.

I have little sympathy for the guy who drives up in the brand new gas guzzling truck with a Quad in the back saying Woes me, I'm broke and cannot afford medical treatment, I never should have gone to the Bahamas last week.

And no matter how much you dislike that fact, THERE IS NO OTHER OPTION. Because if you just stopped treating people that didn't have coverage, disease would fester. A true sub-class would emerge with ghettos full of truly sick people. It would be the 19th century all over again.
I don't dislike the idea of changing things. What I don't like it the foolish Idea that it will be free because some entity will pay for it. We will end up paying for it in increased taxes. If people would take that money and place it i a savings account, the vast majority of them would have more money then they ever used.

I can think of no good reason that, in the wealthiest nation in all of history, anybody should worry about getting the treatment they need. You can pout all you want about percentage of GDP paid in taxes, but that would seem pretty fucking stupid to you, I'm sure, if it was YOU or YOUR LOVED ONES that you lost due to the capitalistic heathcare system in this country.
Nobody is lost in the capitalist health care system. If they are, it is because they are stupid and probably deserved to die because of their own actions. It would be like them committing suicide in a sense which seems to be allowed and sometimes promoted in countries which already have government health care.

But I can think of a few good reasons why they should go without. Because the vast majority of them had the opportunity to provide for situations where they need coverage by either saving money or paying for insurance. They didn't for the same reasons people don't stop smoking, It will never happen to me. And when it does, they should learn their lesson and find a way to get something covered or do the ER trip thing. When they get back on their feet, They will know better this time and do the right thing.

So lets lead on this. And lets acknowledge that the current system is NOT what works best for America, you, I, the corporations we work for, or the people we love.
I'm willing to acknowledge that. That has never been my sticking point. I expect you to acknowledge that it won't be free, are we are likely to see an amount of tax increase large enough to pretty much pay for insurance in the first place. Some on the lower income might not see it, but they are typically the ones already getting free medical. There is a very small minority of people who both actually cannot afford insurance and don't have some other coverage (government, work or whatever). I would say cover them, and give the rest some time. There is not reasons someone making 30k+ a year living by himself should get free medical at the expense of other when he could adjust his living style and easily pay for it himself.

This is it... (1)

encoderer (1060616) | about 7 years ago | (#20132051)

I'm not debating you. But you've distorted my words and my points. I'm going to fix that and move on. There is no way to communicate sensibly with people as stupid as you chose to be.

Very simply, you are fond of basing arguments off of broad assertions and use straw-men to support them. For example:

1. ALL OF YOUR ARGUMENTS revolve around this "not being free." You say time and again that "People who think it will be free if some entity pays for it" NOBODY THINKS THAT. NOBODY ON HERE HAS SAID ANYTHING OF THE SORT. PERIOD. This is a fact: you can go thru and read these posts. It's a FACT taht nobody is expecting healthcare to magically be free if only the Gov't would pick up the tab. My god, are you so stupid to actually believe your argument, or are you just so stupid you think that we'll buy in to your mischaracterization?

2. Instead of looking at easily available facts, you base your "learned" opinion, over and over again, on ANECDOTE. Your mom works in a "country" hospital and you're using that as some sort of basis for your opinion on national healthcare? Are you serious? Go crack a book, bro. It won't bite, I promise. I mean for chrissake, "my mommy works at the hospital?" My god man, are you 14?

3. You are COMPLETELY UNINFORMED about the Medicare Advantage program. Here's how it works right now: Medicare knows how much on average they're paying for a single beneficiary. Let's say it's $1000 a year, just for an example. Right now, Medicare is offering to pay a private insurer $1050 a year (105%) to insure a Medicare recipient. VERY FEW companies even agreed to accept Medicare patients and the ones that do have had to CUT SOME BENEFTS BELOW WHAT MEDICARE WAS OFFERING. That is, in very simple terms: It costs a private insurer (aka the freemarket) MORE to provide the same coverage as it does Medicare. This is a FACT, bro. This is verifiable. All of these numbers are PUBLISHED. Go look it up.

This is a perfect case: If the "Freemarket" was so much more efficient, they'd be able to provide Medicare-quality service CHEAPER than it costs Medicare to offer it. But they can't. They can't even MEET the costs of Medicare. It costs a private insurer MORE than it costs Medicare. So much for the "magic" of the marketplace....

4. Your little anecdote about your mom working in the hospital... You write that in retort to my point that the uninsured are STILL GOING TO THE HOSPITALS when they're ill. And we're ALREADY paying for that at the state level. It's ALREADY factored into our state taxes. We're ALREADY PAYING THE BILL to insure everybody. The only difference is that now we're paying 2, 3x as much for an emergency room visit than we would if we put these people on a gov't health plan and let them see a doctor in an office visit.

5. You CANNOT simply compare healthcare spending in America versus spending in Canada. It's not that simple. Even as a calculation of GDP. You failed to miss the most important part of what I wrote about this: American companies are uncompetive against foregin companies that don't have that same burden. How much more wealth would be in the pockets of American corporations, their investors, and their employees, if we allowed them to compete w/ Foreign companies on a level playing field?

In summary, your reply to my post is LAUGHABLE. Over and over you made it appear that you were addressing a point, but in reality took an entirely different tangent. You used anecdote and absurd assumptions like people think gov't healthcare would be "free."

You show a complete lack of understanding of the way healthcare and the freemarket currently work in this country. Your arguments are not well thought out and not well articulated.

If you're able to reply with FACTS and not more of this CHILDISH CONJECTURE, I may, perhaps be willing to have a discussion with you. But otherwise, this is it. My 2 posts on this subject speak for themselves and anybody reading this will clearly be able to see and verify the facts of what I've written. They stand on their own two feet very well. Yours, on the other hand, read more like a piece in The Onion...

Re:The question is why not IBM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20130085)

Almost every could get health insurance in America for less then $320 a month per person covered

Well, except for anyone who's a female of childbearing age.

We could actually complicate it more by showing that about 50% of health care in the US is covered by the government where 70% in Canada is. When we add that to the mix, they are paying an extra $320 (USD) per month in Canada for 30% more coverage.

Where is the "more" coming from? All you've done is show that Canadian treatment costs $320/mo/citizen. How much of the average American's taxes goes towards Medicare/Medicaid and paying for all the people who clog the ER for hours on end who can't pay for any of it themselves?

The problem with the market is not so much "government intervention" as the insurance in the first place. Insurance companies hide the true cost of services from the consumer, quashing competition among doctors. Since pretty much all insurance companies (contrary to popular libertarian belief, medicare and medicaid are not alone in this) contractually compel doctors to charge more to uninsured patients than insured patients (after all, if health care wasn't so expensive, nobody would buy insurance) the market is even further distorted.

Of course, if we bought a few IBM mainframes we'd be able to calculate the best price/performance ratio for medical care and keep this thread on topic ;)

Cinderella gets the slipper (2, Insightful)

john82 (68332) | about 7 years ago | (#20128609)

The summary is misleading. RTFA. The real issue here as academic prestige via the selection site. This has nothing to do with the selection of IBM. Mascarading under the cloak of "California" and "Pennsylvania", I'd guess we actually have a couple of ugly stepsisters in the form of the supercomputing facilities (and the universities themselves) at UC Berkeley and Carnegie-Mellon. They seem to be shocked and somewhat put out that one of them was not selcted (instead of NCSA/UIUC). So the response now is to try and CREATE a "cloud of suspicion" by complaining that there might be a cloud of suspicion.

Harumph! What were they thinking? I mean, how suspicious that someone would put a new supercomputer at someplace called the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Obviously there's something wrong with that selection!

Another point to consider, anytime a large contract (in this case a huge one in several respects) gets awarded, Miss Congeniality and Miss Second Runner-up are going to protest. Happens all the time. This go around however the academic community is trying to BS their way through the issue.

Re:Cinderella gets the slipper (1)

GPSguy (62002) | about 7 years ago | (#20129415)

Totally agree. The real bruha here was that NCSA got the award and CMU/UCSD/PSCC didn't. And worse, that they found out by web-scraping the NSB agenda rather than having the program manager call 'em and tell 'em.

Teragrid and petascale computing have always been closed games, with the price of admission being to either fund yourself (have your home institution) into a position to be recognized, or, when NSF suddenly realizes they're not looking to diversify the playing field but are always funding the same few suspects, and decrees that existing players won't get a new (small) award.

I'm less surprised that NCSA got the nod than I would have been if, say, San Diego State had won, or the University of Texas. Both are credible computing players, but neither was mentioned (and to be honest, I don't know if either was a proposed principal in a proposal, or if they simply played along).

Re:Cinderella gets the slipper (1)

xcjohn (64581) | about 7 years ago | (#20131597)

I honestly haven't heard of anyone crying foul over NCSA getting their cake. Yes, it really really sucks that PSC and SDSC didn't (we were quite shocked), but it's that ORNL got track2 that digs you to the bone. Do you honestly think ORNL thought they'd get it? I bet there were as shocked as any of us about that. Yes, I'm whining about greed, the DOE has the deepest pockets, there's no need to go after NSF money. My sincere congratulations to NCSA, any number of other sites could have bid PERCS, but they didn't. It also helps to have state money backing you (this seems to be a point of contention, but Meecham wants his moneys worth, fair enough).

Re:Cinderella gets the slipper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20134645)

It also helps to have state money backing you (this seems to be a point of contention, but Meecham wants his moneys worth, fair enough).

Actually, I think it's more a matter of Meecham & co. appearing to want their money's worth plus a whole lot more. The NSF petascale track 2 competitions have turned into a way for the NSF to get other people to pay for a lot of the NSF's computing budget. Both of the track 2 awards have now gone to sites that a) are not "tier 1" NSF centers, b) have vendor partners so desperate for revenue that they're willing to sell at (or possibly even below) cost, and c) have matching funds from other sources that equal or exceed what they get from NSF.

Honestly, the TACC/Sun proposal broke the entire NSF petascale track 2 process, because now the reviewers feel like they have to throw out any proposal that doesn't out-macho the TACC system in terms of peak FLOPs, regardless of whether that translates to measurable performance on real code.

Also, why the hell isn't the Ranger system at TACC up yet? Wasn't the NSF's requirement that "a signifcant fraction" of it be in production by the end of May?

Re:The question is why not IBM? (1)

mastermemorex (1119537) | about 7 years ago | (#20133409)

One Hundred NVidia 8800 GTX Graphic Cards can achieve 3 petaflops for a insignificant cost.

petaflop? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20127635)

1 Petaflop?

Were any animal rights activists harmed in the design or manufacture of this computer?

Re:petaflop? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20127863)

I hope so.

I just get so mad at them when they try to tell me not to eat animals. If god didn't want us to eat animals, why did he make them taste like meat? If he wanted us to eat only vegetables, Wouldn't he make them taste like meat too?

Re:petaflop? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20128031)

If you only eat cockroaches, they probably won't bother you much.

Vegetable substitutes for meat (0, Offtopic)

tepples (727027) | about 7 years ago | (#20128779)

If [God] wanted us to eat only vegetables, Wouldn't he make them taste like meat too?
Tofu [wikipedia.org] . Tempeh [wikipedia.org] . Veggie burgers [wikipedia.org] . God gave man the ability to invent vegetable substitutes for meat [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Vegetable substitutes for meat (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20128839)

... All of which taste almost, but not exactly, the same. That is to say "not like meat."

Yes, I have given them a chance. My girlfriend loves them, and eats them frequently. Periodically she'll make food with one so that afterwards she can say "You didn't even know you were eating (meat substitute), did you?" Every time I call her out on the first bite.

It sure looks like meat sometimes, though. :P

(AC because she reads this site.)

Re:Vegetable substitutes for meat (0, Offtopic)

msdschris (875574) | about 7 years ago | (#20128847)

God gave man the ability to invent vegetable substitutes for meat.
If only they actually tasted like meat you might be on to something.

Re:Vegetable substitutes for meat (0, Offtopic)

tepples (727027) | about 7 years ago | (#20129041)

God gave man the ability to invent vegetable substitutes for meat.
If only they actually tasted like meat you might be on to something.
Nor does turkey taste much like beef.

PETA = "People Eating Tastey Animals" (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 7 years ago | (#20129123)

Yum. Yum.

Re:petaflop? (0, Offtopic)

Grimbleton (1034446) | about 7 years ago | (#20127879)

I sure hope so... (I'm a member of PETA, but not one of those looneys you hear about on the news)

Horrible Writing (2, Insightful)

bendodge (998616) | about 7 years ago | (#20127661)

"According to documents accidentally placed on a federal government Web site for a short time last week (a punctuation mark maybe?) the national science foundation (NSF) will award the contract to buy a $200M supercomputer in 2011 to IBM. The machine is designed to perform scientific calculations at sustained speed(s?) of 1 petaflop. The award is already proving controversial however, with questions being raised about the correctness of the bidding procedure. Similar concerns have also been raised about the award of a smaller machine to Oak Ridge national lab, which is a Department of energy laboratory, not a site one would expect to house an NSF machine."

Come on editors!

Re:Horrible Writing (0, Offtopic)

martin_henry (1032656) | about 7 years ago | (#20127765)

Excuse me, but to which punctuation mark are you referring?

Re:Horrible Writing (0, Offtopic)

cheater512 (783349) | about 7 years ago | (#20127977)

That would be a comma.

Re:Horrible Writing (1)

bendodge (998616) | about 7 years ago | (#20129581)

A comma (or Zonk could have split the sentence).

Not to mention... (1)

Cap'n.Brownbeard (1092507) | about 7 years ago | (#20130613)

...that the summary includes the word "petaflop", which is completely wrong.

Should be "petaFLOPS" or similar. The "S" is important, otherwise the unit of measure is a mystery. Could be minutes, hours, days...

This sounds like a simple one to me... who else? (4, Insightful)

RobertM1968 (951074) | about 7 years ago | (#20127667)

If the government was interested in a machine from a company who has consistently shown it knows how to build these things, then who else would they choose?

IBM has consistently dominated the fastest supercomputer list:

http://www.top500.org/

And as for it's location... why would the government want to keep putting all their eggs in the same basket? Also, it's not like you need a keyboard and mouse and operator directly attached to this machine... so housing it elsewhere in a facility that can house it makes sense.

Sounds more like a bunch of people grumbling that they arent going to have access to what they thought would be their newest toy. In addition, it indicates possible collaboration between the DOE and NSA which should only be a good thing.

Re:This sounds like a simple one to me... who else (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 7 years ago | (#20127871)

Well, it makes sense that the DOE has access to it. They are after all running intensive computer models on all sorts of stuff from global warming to weather patterns and energy scenarios. They are working with the NSF on Carbon numbers and stuff.

This might be what saves the world. LOL

Re:This sounds like a simple one to me... who else (1)

megaditto (982598) | about 7 years ago | (#20128007)

If DOE wants access to it, they should pay for that access. Given how little money pure science already receives from the government, handing over this computer to nuke research would be little short of treason.

Re:This sounds like a simple one to me... who else (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 7 years ago | (#20128291)

The DOE does more then Nuke research. They are behind the official US responses to global warming or what ever the name of the month is.

The DOE is probably more science oriented the the NSF in some ways. When you put the NASA elements into consideration anyway. There are many faces to the Department of energy. Just like the military which wil get it's hands into everything, so does the DOE.

Re:This sounds like a simple one to me... who else (1)

megaditto (982598) | about 7 years ago | (#20128425)

Let's see how much each one gets each year:

DoD: 400 bil. US$ (not including the Iraq war costs, read another 90 bil.)
DoE: 25 bil.
NASA: 15 bil.
EPA: 8 bil.

NSF: 6 bil.

I say screw them, let them buy their own damn computer.

Re:This sounds like a simple one to me... who else (1)

jschrod (172610) | about 7 years ago | (#20128335)

Uuh, DoE uses supercomputers mostly for other tasks. Almost all of them (and surely all of the top TOP500 list) are used for stockpile stewardship [wikipedia.org] (i.e., nuclear weapons simulation).

The DoE has $4 billion p.a. for such tasks; not counting money from military budgets.

Re:This sounds like a simple one to me... who else (2, Insightful)

samkass (174571) | about 7 years ago | (#20128365)

I think you hit the nail on the head. Show me a $200M government contract award that WASN'T challenged by the folks who didn't get it...

Re:This sounds like a simple one to me... who else (1)

dbitch (553938) | about 7 years ago | (#20129155)

Uh, I don't really think you want a collaboration between the DoE and the NSA. I think you might have meant NSF, right? What would the NSA do with all those ASCI flops?

Re:This sounds like a simple one to me... who else (1)

RobertM1968 (951074) | about 7 years ago | (#20134261)

Umm... yeah, that was a typo, and I would be really scared over what the NSA would do with that many FLOPS. :-)

Re:This sounds like a simple one to me... who else (1)

xcjohn (64581) | about 7 years ago | (#20131521)

You're missing the mark completely here. The problem is that the DOE doesn't allow their machines to be open to public researchers. You don't get time on a DOE machine unless you're doing atomic research, etc. The NSF is inherently seperated from the DOE because of this fact. That's why we have BG/L at livermore, it's for the nuke guys. The public sector isnt' getting as many big machines anymore, just the military. So all those astrophysicists and earth sciences people won't get access period. This isn't something to be played off as a bunch of people whining, this is a serious change in the way the NSF does business. More to the point, it approaches a travesty for the scientific computing community at large.

Re:This sounds like a simple one to me... who else (1)

RobertM1968 (951074) | about 7 years ago | (#20134297)

Or hopefully this means that the DOE is (using this machine for) concentrating on things that are applicable to the private sector such as Global Warming, the environment, climate, etc, for which a collaboration with the NSF would make sense.

hmmm (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20127711)

A NSF machine? I wonder what a Not Safe for Work machine would have on it? PORN!

"Scientific calculations"? (-1, Offtopic)

FOSSdude (1125899) | about 7 years ago | (#20127713)

I suppose that cryptanalysis is a type of science. Maybe they will also put it on the internet backbone and perform "email quality screening".

NSF? (1)

FeepingCreature (1132265) | about 7 years ago | (#20127729)

Upon reading this article, I can't help thinking of the NSF [wikipedia.org] . What do these guys need supercomputers for?
.. Maybe I should play less Deus Ex :(

Re:NSF? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20128045)

Maybe if you were just less of a tool...

From the Article... (1)

martin_henry (1032656) | about 7 years ago | (#20127737)

Several government supercomputing scientists said they were concerned that the decision might raise questions about impartiality and political influence.
Unfortunately, under-the-table deals have persuaded the NSF to go with IBM, rather than me and my Beowolf Cluster of Illiterate Iguana [uncyclopedia.org] linux systems...

What are the alternatives? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20127773)

Dell.. anyone?

Re:What are the alternatives? (2, Funny)

Nullav (1053766) | about 7 years ago | (#20128009)

"Dude, you're gettin' a Cray!"

Dell? Fuck that shit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20129417)

Why would anyone want a computer made by Dell? Dell intentionally alters the pinout of the connector on their ATX power supplies so that they can't be replaced with off-the-shelf ATX power supplies. Any vendor that would do that deserves to fucking go out of business.

at least it'll run linux (2, Funny)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 7 years ago | (#20127829)

Given that IBM's strategy is to try to run linux on all its hardware, there's a good chance that the supercomputer will be running a version of linux. Expect Ballmer to be sending several chairs by express courier to the NSF in short order.

IBM and Linux (1)

SimonShine (795915) | about 7 years ago | (#20128855)

If IBM wants to run Linux on all its hardware, they should think about publishing free drivers to the community. Being forced to run their commercial copies of Red Hat is only "Running Linux" by a thin margin.

Re:at least it'll run linux (1)

xcjohn (64581) | about 7 years ago | (#20131637)

No, and I don't know why everyone thinks this will be a BlueGene/P. NCSA bid PERCS on this. It's fairly safe to bet such a machine would run AIX (you certainly don't want to waste a petaflop on linux.

Unnecessary (5, Funny)

fan of lem (1092395) | about 7 years ago | (#20128075)

Aw c'mon, we all know it will only output 42.

So, what are the concerns? (4, Insightful)

ShinmaWa (449201) | about 7 years ago | (#20128097)

This is a HORRIBLE article. Forget, for now, that it seems to be a disjointed series of sentences and let's focus on the "concern".

Word of the decision to award the contract to I.B.M. to build a production version of a computer that is now intended for [DARPA] has created widespread concern in the past week among some computer scientists involved in designing and building the nation's high-performance computers. [...] Placing it in Illinois, however, has led to expressions of concern in California and Pennsylvania, where computing laboratories also bid on the contract.
Okay, that's nice. What is this widespread concern? Does it have to do with the bidding process? If so, why? Why does putting it at UIUC make a difference? Maybe the next paragraph will tell us:

The machine will become a magnet for the world's most advanced and challenging scientific research projects... [Exclamations that it's a special machine and an unfortunate comparison with Hubble]
Guess not. Perhaps Horst Simon had something enlightening to say:

"The process needs to be above all suspicion. [...] It's in the interest of the national community that there is not even a cloud of suspicion, and there already is one."
Anything on the nature of this "cloud of suspicion", New York Times?

It will also represent an extraordinary shift in the balance of computing power between military and scientific computing centers in the United States. For most of the last two decades, the fastest computers in the United States have been located at either the national laboratories at Los Alamos, N.M., or Livermore, Calif.
I thought not.

sour grapes are inevitable, probably (2, Insightful)

Quadraginta (902985) | about 7 years ago | (#20128453)

As I recall, the number of NSF-funded supercomputer centers was drastically cut maybe 10 years ago or so, and something like only three emerged intact (NCSA, Pittsburg, and SDSC). I presume those are the "Illinois," "California" and "Pennsylvania" options mentioned in this otherwise utterly clueless piece of journalistic malpractice. Although maybe "California" refers to Livermore or LANL.

That NCSA might win the contract with a proposal that IBM build the machine is about as uncontroversial and "safe" a result as one could possible imagine, given the very long track record each institution has in this area. So I suspect the "widespread concern" is probably widespread concern for somebody's job or research grant. My impression is that the NSF has been steadily decreasing the amount of money it spends on supercomputer projects, because the community of people who think you can do something with a supercomputer that you really can't with a cluster is steadily shrinking. What that means is people in the business are being brutally squeezed as the research money dries up, and some are being squeezed right out of the field. Harsh, and it's not surprising if the harshest thing they say in response -- as life dreams go up in smoke -- is that they aren't sure the NSF was totally "fair" when they awarded the mongo grant to some other center...

The bit about an "extraordinary shift in the balance of computing power between military and scientific computing centers" -- a shift toward the scientific side and away from the military -- is so strange a thing for the New York Times to bitch about, with their knee-jerk loathing of all things military, that it's hard not to believe the reporter totally misunderstood Simon's statement (which is probably not much more than him saying Livermore has always had badass computers for designing nukes, and he thinks they still should, notwithstanding the fact that the nuke design business has been a bit slow lately).

Finally, the bit about another computer going to ORNL demonstrates more cluelessness on the part of the reporter. The fact that UT runs ORNL under contract to DOE doesn't prevent the PIs at ORNL from getting NSF grants -- and plenty folks there have them, I believe. I can't see any reason why folks at ORNL couldn't submit a successful proposal for a big computer to the NSF. They do a lot of unique materials research (since they have those great neutron and X-ray sources), and materials research is a good place to do massive simulations.

I wonder who, with what personal axe to grind, submitted this curiously vapid and pointless article to slashdot?

Re:sour grapes are inevitable, probably (1)

bockelboy (824282) | about 7 years ago | (#20129047)

Coming from a school which isn't on either coast, I think it's great that NSF money is being spread around a little bit.

While I'm not questioning the excellence of the existing facilities, there's certainly faculty outside of those who might be able to be more cost-effective with their money. A $2M grant falls into the "small fish" category in some places, while a $2M grant might be huge at smaller schools. Further, I personally believe the cost of getting a grant off the ground is less expensive in the Midwest. $60k is a great wage in the area where I live; taking into account the cost of living, it is equivalent to $100k on the coast. The NSF's money can simply be spread around farther.

I'm not faulting anyone here (the big places are top-notch, NSF projects usually do show good return on investment), but it'd be nice to see the money go to other places.

Re:sour grapes are inevitable, probably (1)

Quadraginta (902985) | about 7 years ago | (#20135063)

It isn't being spread out one little bit more. NCSA and ORNL have been rolling in Federal dough for the past forty years. Nothing is changing.

It's a bit weird for Livermore to be competing for NSF dollars. Usually their funding is DOE/DoD, since they've been a closed weapons shop for decades. Oak Ridge and Los Alamos made the transition to a lot more civilian research long ago, so they have plenty of NSF money. But I think it's a bit new for Livermore to be competing so strongly for it. Again, I think it's just because they're flopping around a little bit, looking for a new mission, now that nukes are kind of out of fashion even with the military. I think DoD is likely to be spending their blue-sky money more on robotics these days, e.g. UAVs, and that means NASA labs like Goddard or Ames, not Livermore or Sandia. Probably the Livermore chaps are only being kept alive by ballistic missile defense projects, with its big lasers and stuff, plus the odd fusion project and of course trying to maintain nuke readiness via computer simulation and no actual testing. Thin stuff. I can see why they'd want to tap into materials science, which I'm guessing is the point of this new machinery, if it's going to NCSA and ORNL. Few doubt that materials science is the kind of thing that (1) requires monster computers, and (2) will always be funded by NSF and at least attract the attention of DoD/DOE.

The NSF's money can simply be spread around farther.

Eh, there's a good reason for its restricted spread. Do not forget that a key component of research success, except in rare circumstances, is the quality of the support infrastructure. You need to know your grant applicant can easily get top-notch glassblowers, computer programmers, machinists, grad students, et cetera if he wins your grant. If he's at a top-notch research place, you can take that stuff as a given. Otherwise, you might worry about giving a pile of money to a PI who himself is maybe stellar, but who has to make do with second-class help.

what kind of machine? (2, Informative)

ghort (2896) | about 7 years ago | (#20128471)

IBM has at least 3 different systems that this could be (x86-ish linux cluster, power* aix, bluegene), but the article doesn't say which.

Other competitors would have been Sun (linux or solaris), SGI (Altix), Cray, etc. Apparently the USGov won't consider Japanese machines so Hitachi/NEC are out.

PS Japan is building a 10x faster machine in the same timeframe.

PPS The top500 is heavily biased toward clustery machines; certain types of science codes do not run well on such systems. Not saying it's a wrong metric, just that the machines on the top500 are not good at every kind of problem.

Re:what kind of machine? (1)

GPSguy (62002) | about 7 years ago | (#20129493)

Rumor has it that this will be a Power7 machine. Whatever that is. Power6 has just been released to testing.

Riiiiight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20128859)

Oak Ridge national lab, which is a Department of energy laboratory, not a site one would expect to house an NSF machine.


Heaven forfend! The National SCIENCE Foundation having equipment at a NATIONAL FRIGGIN' LAB?! [gasp]!

Nothing to see here.... (1)

rclandrum (870572) | about 7 years ago | (#20129089)

Just about every federal contract of any significance (translation: high dollar value) gets protested by the losers. Not news. Not a surprise. Not likely to have any effect of the outcome.

Illinois, California, wherever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20129469)

I don't care where the computer ends up as long as it's not a red state. Otherwise, we'll have spent millions to find out that, in fact, the earth's temperature has been constant for 6000 years (i.e., since the dawn of the universe).

Confusing headline (1)

kalirion (728907) | about 7 years ago | (#20129557)

Anyone else read the headline and thought that someone decided to give a $200Mil computer to IBM for free?

Live Free Die Hard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20129995)

Come on! Haven't you seen the movie yet? Everyone knows that really important super secret mainframes containing databases full of financial data are stored at random locations (like DoE facilities). Don't worry guys, Bruce will save the day!

New obligation for all /. supercomputer summaries. (1)

WK2 (1072560) | about 7 years ago | (#20132405)

It's "petaflops" not petaflop. Please tag this article "flopsnotflop."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FLOPS [wikipedia.org]
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