IBM Ships Supercomputers to Alaska

 
 
By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2003-03-14 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

IBM is selling 92 of its eServer pSeries 655 servers to the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center to create a supercomputing environment designed to help researchers learn more about salmon and whitefish populations in the Gulf of Alaska.

IBM is selling 92 of its eServer pSeries 655 servers to the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center to create a supercomputing environment designed to help researchers learn more about salmon and whitefish populations in the Gulf of Alaska.

Each of the 92 p655 servers will contain eight of IBMs 64-bit Power4 chips. Two p690 serversthat also are part of the supercomputing package—called Iceberg—will carry 32 Power4 processors each, with all 94 systems running IBMs Unix operating system, AIX. The first phase of the machines are about to ship to Alaska, with the bulk of the systems due to arrive in the summer, according to Peter Ungaro, vice president of high performance computing at IBM.

The deal comes at the same time that International Data Corp. said that IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., pushed past Hewlett-Packard Co. in the fourth quarter to claim the top spot in supercomputing. IBM had 36.7 percent market share in the fourth quarter, an 11.5 percent jump over the fourth quarter in 2001, according to IDC. HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., saw its market share drop by 7.9 percent, to 31.5 percent, the report said.

The p655s, launched by IBM in November into the supercomputing space, will handle workloads that can be run across multiple processors, Ungaro said. Each will have 16GB of memory. The more powerful 32-way p690s will be used by the center to handle jobs that require a lot of shared memory. Each system will have 256GB of memory, he said. The systems will be connected via IBMs SP Switch technology and clustering software, enabling all processor to act as one system, he said.

The cluster software, Cluster Systems Management and General Purpose File Systems, can be used not only for IBMs Unix-based systems but also for its Intel-based servers and blade servers, according to Ungaro. Currently the software can only run in standalone situations—either only in Unix clusters, for example—but IBM is working toward making them work in mixed environments.

"This [Iceberg] system is going to be one of the largest ones in the world," Ungaro said. "It will be another IBM clustered environment used to solve some of the most complex scientific problems."

The Arctic Region Supercomputer Center, located on the University of Alaska campus in Fairbanks, will use the 5 teraflop system—which will be able to run five trillion operations per second—to create 3D renderings of the Gulf of Alaska that will include currents, ocean depth and biological data to give researchers a clearer picture of the environment and the fish populations within it.

According to the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center, the cost of the deal with IBM is about $12.75 million in hardware and maintenance. In an unrelated move, the center also is buying a X1 supercomputer from Cray Inc. for more than $16 million.

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