Texas Computing Center Buys IBM Supercomputer Cluster

The center will use the cluster to help improve oil-drilling techniques.

The Texas Advanced Computing Center, or TACC, is buying a supercomputing cluster from IBM, the latest announcement in a busy month for supercomputer purchases.

Housed at the University of Texas at Austin, the center will use the cluster to help model surface and subsurface flow in hopes of improving oil-drilling techniques. IBM officials on Friday declined to release the price of the deal.

TACC, which last year bought a cluster of IBM Power4 systems armed with 64 processors, is purchasing another cluster of 32 eServer pSeries servers, each holding four 64-bit Power4 chips, and a 32-way p690 for jobs that require a lot of shared memory, according to IBM, of Armonk, N.Y.

Combined with the system bought last year, TACC now has 224 Power4 chips and more than 500GB of memory powering IBMs AIX 5L Unix operating system, according to the company.

A key role of the system will be to design cheaper and more environmentally friendly oil-drilling techniques. For example, chemicals are pumped into the earth during drilling to make oil flow more easily to the surface, according to IBM officials. Researchers will use the computing power in the clusters to create cleaner and cheaper chemicals for that job.

The system also will be used for research in other fields, including geophysics, space science and engineering.

The announcement comes a week after IBM said it is selling 92 p655 servers and two p690s, powered by the Power4, to the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center, in Anchorage, Alaska, to help researchers learn more about salmon and whitefish populations in the Gulf of Alaska.

That deal was for about $12.75 million. At the same time, the Alaska center is buying an X1 supercomputer from Cray Inc. for more than $16 million.

On March 11, Dell Computer Corp., of Round Rock, Texas, announced that Oxford University in England bought a cluster of PowerEdge servers to assist in a study among several English universities to investigate mass, inertia and antimatter.

That cluster will include 10 2650 PowerEdge servers and 16 PowerVault 220s RAID storage enclosures with 7TB of storage capacity. The system will run Red Hat Linux.

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