IBM Cranks Up Compute Centers Power

Big Blue will add up to 15 teraflops to its supercomputing capacity-on-demand capabilities, including more Power5+ systems.

IBM is adding more than 15 teraflops of computing power to its three supercomputing-on-demand centers as the company adjusts to growing demands on the service.

The Armonk, N.Y., company will add more computing power to the Blue Gene supercomputing systems in the centers, as well as more BladeCenter blade systems powered by Advanced Micro Devices Opteron processors, said David Gelardi, vice president of deep computing at IBM.

IBM also will add systems running on its own Power5+ processors. Up to this point in the 3-year-old Computing Capacity on Demand project, IBM has offered only a small amount of computing resources on the Power platform.

Gelardi said requests by some software partners, such as MSC Software, as well as the growing interest in running AIX and some Linux workloads on Power persuaded him to add more Power5+ systems into the mix.

The addition of more BladeCenter LS20 blade servers running on Opteron is part of a growing trend at the centers toward blade servers for x86 workloads, he said. The density and networking improvements of blades over traditional rack servers offer benefits for both IBM and end users, he said.

Big Blue introduced the first blade server to the centers a year ago, and already they account for 40 percent of the non-Blue Gene servers, Gelardi said. He expects that percentage to grow.

"As Im replacing technology, Im moving in the blade direction," he said.

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The centers house massive computer systems that customers can tap into when they need additional computing capacity. Gelardi said IBM officials initially expected that demand was going to come primarily from businesses seeking extra power over a short amount of time to complete workloads.

However, they have seen demand grow from customers who have different ideas.

"Clients are beginning to look at off-site computing … as a very reasonable way to extend their enterprise, as a way of bringing more capabilities and flexibility than they can do themselves," Gelardi said.

A number of OEMs are looking at ways of offering compute power as a service. Sun Microsystems last year launched its Sun Grid initiative, which offers businesses access to compute power for as little as $1 per CPU hour.

Gelardi said customers seem to be growing more comfortable with the idea of running some of their workloads off-site, particularly with the security involved, the companys expertise and the security that its building into the centers.

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