RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — A solution may be near for the funding crisis of the Supercomputing Center at MCNC.

While the details haven’t all been worked out, Local Tech Wire is told that users and MCNC are nearing a deal that will see the Supercomputing Center is compensated for services rendered.

The hub of the state’s high-tech research and education network run by MCNC and a cornerstone for the fledgling BioGrid is losing money – a burn rate of $4 million or so a year, which would have made many “dot coms” proud.

But Dave Rizzo, MCNC’s chief executive officer, is on the record as saying he might have to pull the plug on the Cray and IBM big boys if someone or some institutions don’t step up and start paying for services. MCNC used part of its endowment to underwrite costs in 2001. No longer, Rizzo says.

Among the big users are the UNC system universities, especially the UNC System, which gets funding for networking from the General Assembly. In the past, MCNC has provided free access for university researchers. Among those pushing hard to get the Supercomputing Center funded are William Leutze, the aggressive tech-focused chancellor at UNC Wilmington, and Jane Patterson, former science advisor to Gov. Jim Hunt who also sits on MCNC’s board. Other board members include the folks running NCSU, the UNCS system and UNC.

Matters are expected to come to a head — and resolution — on Nov. 4 at a board meeting.

Top Ten for Techies: Some eye-openers

David Letterman’s “Top Ten” list is a lot more funny, but a “Top Ten” list for the technology sector recently put out by Gartner is much more relevant.

Carl Claunch, director of research at Gartner, cited these items as part of his high-tech forecast, as reported by Thomas Hoffman of Cnet:

1. Additional bandwidth will become more cost-effective than buying new computers.
2. Most major new systems will be interenterprise or cross-enterprise systems.
3. Despite the complexities, interenterprise systems will provide a macroeconomic boost to companies.
4. Further automation will substantially lower the labor load of business.
5. The consolidation of vendors will continue in many segments of the IT market.
6. Moore’s Law (regarding PC power and prices) will hold true through this decade.
7. Banks will become the primary providers of so-called presence services (or holders of secure online information and financial transactions) by 2007.
8. Business activity monitoring will hit the mainstream within five years.
9. Business units, not IT, will make most application decisions.
10. The pendulum swings back to decentralized IT operations by 2004.

Which do you find mort interesting, encouraging — or troubling?

How about fewer jobs (No. 4). CEOs say yes; employees cry no.

But look at No. 6. That’s good news for consumers and researchers. Claunch predicts PCs will have 40-GHz processors, 1.5TB disks (as in terabyte), and 4 GB to 12 GB of RAM.

As Harry Caray would have said, “Holy Cow!”

What WSJ readers are sending on —

Sometimes you just have to laugh — despite the dreary news of the day, such as the disclosure of North Korea’s secret nuclear program.

I logged in to The Wall Street Journal as usual pre-drawn today and found a story I wanted to e-mail to a colleague. As I did so, WSJ’s site told me the other top three stories being e-mailed by subscribers. But the first two were not what you might expect.

No. 1: Something about Vitamin E not delivering on certain benefits regarding the sex drive

No. 2: “New Study Connects Bicycling to Impotence”

No additional comment needed.

Cisco ‘cool’ to acquisitions?

Interested in the strategic thinking at Cisco Systems these days?

Light Reading, a Web news site that follows optical networking as closely as ESPN tracks football, has an interesting interview posted online with Mike Volpi, a senior vice president at Cisco.

After getting burned by some bankrupt CLECs (competitive local access carriers), Volpi says Cisco won’t do any more such financing and adds, ” — our focus is now much more toward the incumbents.” As in the big telcos.

Volpi also says Cisco is cool to acquisitions, given market conditions.

To read the full interview, check out:

Light Reading: ‘Cisco Chills on Acquisitions’ –

http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?site=lightreading&doc_id=22661″target=”_blank”>www.lightreading.com/document.asp?site=lightreading&doc_id=22661

Rick Smith is managing editor of Local Tech Wire.