The BLACS (Basic Linear Algebra Communication Subprograms) project is an ongoing investigation whose purpose is to create a linear algebra oriented message passing interface that may be implemented efficiently and uniformly across a large range of distributed memory platforms.
The length of time required to implement efficient distributed memory algorithms makes it impractical to rewrite programs for every new parallel machine. The BLACS exist in order to make linear algebra applications both easier to program and more portable. It is for this reason that the BLACS are used as the communication layer of ScaLAPACK.
See the official website: BLACS