IBM Enhances Cluster Lineup

IBM is bulking up the capabilities of its cluster offerings, adding its newly released opteron-based blade and new interconnect technologies to the lineup.

IBM is bulking up the capabilities of its cluster offerings, adding its newly released Opteron-based blade and new interconnect technologies to the lineup.

IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., last week released the BladeCenter LS20 blade, which the company announced in April during Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s second anniversary celebration of its 64-bit Opteron processor. The blade is one of several servers that will feature the new dual-core Opteron. IBM also is putting the chip into the IntelliStation A Pro 6217 and the eServer 326.

In conjunction with the release of the LS20, IBM also announced that it will offer the blade server in its Cluster 1350, growing the options available to the HPC (high-performance computing) field. IBM already offers the cluster with systems running its Power processors and Intel Corp. chips.

"In the cluster environment, there is a lot of interest in running dense [clusters] and to look at blades role in the clusters," said Bob Lenard, director of Linux clusters for IBMs eServer xSeries.

Linux clusters are among the fastest-growing segments in the HPC space, increasing at more than 30 percent a year, Lenard said. Theyre gaining traction in such areas as pharmaceuticals and financial services, he said.

The Cluster 1350 also will support IBMs new eServer 326, a 1U (1.75-inch) rack system that runs on AMDs dual-core Opterons. In addition, for Power-based clusters running the JS20 blades, users can now run the pSeries 710 and 720 systems as management and storage nodes.

The University at Buffalo has been running a 532-CPU Cluster 1350 comprising HS20 blades running on 2.8GHz Xeons for about a year to help in its work studying protein behavior and developing drugs.

Jeffrey Skolnick, director of the New York universitys Center for Excellence in Bioinformatics, said getting a powerful environment with industry-standard equipment is crucial for an institution like his. The BladeCenter systems also enable the university to save on power costs and data center space.

"Our goal is to maximize aggregate throughput," Skolnick said. "Were an academic institution, so we dont have a huge budget. Having standards and having robust systems is extremely important."

IBMs new dual-core Opteron blades will be an option when the university upgrades its cluster, Skolnick said. He added that he hopes to have an LS20 in hand in about a month to test.

"In principle, were very interested," Skolnick said. "Well do the appropriate benchmarking when we get one of those to play with."

IBM was the first major OEM to support Opteron. However, since Opterons release in 2003, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. also have embraced the platform. Lenard said IBM is aiming its Opteron systems at the HPC space, though customers are expanding Opterons uses beyond that area.

IBM also is growing the number of switch and interconnect options in the Cluster 1350. It will now support Voltaire Inc.s InfiniBand Switch Router 9288, as well as technology from Myricom Inc. and QLogic Corp.