U.K. University to Buy IBM Supercomputer

The University of Southampton, which has research centers for such subjects as oceanography, medicine and the Internet, is buying a massive IBM iDataPlex supercomputer that will hold more than 8,000 quad-core Intel Xeon processors and be capable of 74 teraflops, which would rank it in the top 100 fastest supercomputers in the world. IBM introduced the iDataPlex server array in 2008, aiming it at Web 2.0 data centers and HPC environments.

Researchers at a university in England will be able to use an IBM supercomputer that will rank among the top 100 fastest systems in the world.

The University of Southampton and OCF, an integrator and IBM partner in England, announced an agreement July 30 in which OCF will build an IBM supercomputer for the university's researchers, who do work in such areas as cancer studies and climate change.

The IBM System iDataPlex supercomputer will contain more than 8,000 quad-core Xeon processors from Intel and be capable of more than 74 teraflops (74 trillion calculations per second). It's expected to be up and running by the end of the year, according to IBM.

By comparison, the fastest supercomputer in the world, according to the Top500 organization's list released in June, is the IBM Roadrunner at the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory, which has a performance capability of 1.105 petaflops-quadrillions of floating point operations per second.

At 74 teraflops, the University of Southampton system would rank 51 on the Top500 list.

Click here for a look at the top 10 fastest supercomputers in the world.

"We need extremely high levels of computing power in our work mapping the disease genes implicated in breast cancer and glaucoma," Andrew Collins, a professor of genetics, said in a statement. "With the volume of genome data increasing hugely each year, its analysis requires the most highly sophisticated facilities."

The supercomputer will be IBM's first iDataPlex system for public use in England. IBM rolled out the iDataPlex server array in April 2008. It's designed for Web 2.0 data centers and HPC (high-performance computing) environments.

The system comes with a host of features designed not only for high-performance computing but also for greater energy efficiency.

The half-depth form factor reduces the airflow that is needed for the system's components. Given its design, the supercomputer will reduce the need for cooling while packing in twice the number of servers in a standard 42U (73.5-inch) rack.

In addition, the iDataPlex system will use water-via a built-in heat exchanger-to cool the expelled heat, rather than leaving it up to the facility's air conditioning system.

It will have 100 terabytes of storage through the IBM DS4700 storage system. The supercomputer also will use Cluster Resources' Adaptive HPC Suite, which will deliver an on-demand Linux and Windows workload.

IBM will get more than $2.9 million from the deal between the university and OCF.

The University of Southampton has more than 5,000 staff members and 22,000 students. It has a several research centers, including the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton; the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research; the Optoelectronics Research Centre; the Web Science Research Initiative; the Centre for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease; and the Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute.