According to Seattle, Washington-based Cray, Black Widow will be instruction set compatible with X1 and is expected to have a peak performance of "several hundred teraflops" on release. With two stages of enhancements, its performance will grow to in excess of one petaflop.
X1 became generally available at the end of 2002 and has a peak performance of 52.4 teraflops and is designed to be capable of delivering petaflop-level aggregate processing power by 2010.
Unfortunately for Cray a significant problem stands in its way to the development of Black Widow. The company's license agreement with Silicon Graphics Inc, from which it acquired the Cray vector supercomputer business in March 2000, only allows it to use SGI's Irix Unix operating system variant in the X1. If Cray is unable to license Irix from SGI for use in Black Widow and other successors to X1, the company said, it will have to develop, acquire or license an alternative Unix operating system.
News of the Black Widow system emerged in a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission which details Cray's plan to sell six million shares of its common stock, which could generate in excess of $45m for the supercomputer vendor, alongside 250,000 shares of common stock from undisclosed shareholders.
Cray said it plans to use the funds raised by its six million shares for general corporate purposes, and pointed out that it will not receive any proceeds from the additional 250,000 shares.
A final price for the share offering has not been set, although the proposed maximum offering price has been set by Cray at $7.54 per share. The company has also granted its underwriters, Needham & Company Inc and SG Cowan Securities Corp, a 30-day option to purchase 937,500 shares of common stock to cover over-allotments.
A date for the offering has also yet to be confirmed, although Cray said it is keen to commence the sale as soon as is practicable. Cray did not return calls by press time to provide details of Black Widow development and delivery plans.