IBM 32-Way Servers to Drive GMs Design Process

Ten 32-way p690 servers will be linked together to form a supercomputing infrastructure to power the car maker's vehicle design applications.

IBM Thursday announced that General Motors Corp. will purchase 10 of its most powerful server, the 32-way p690, which will be linked together to form a supercomputing infrastructure to power the car makers vehicle design applications.

The deal marks another high-profile win for IBMs p690, also known by the code name Regatta, which debuted in October last year and was positioned to take on the top product offerings of Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co., the worlds two largest Unix server vendors.

High-end Unix-based servers are valued by large corporations for their ability to address vast amounts of memory and process multiple calculations simultaneously. Such powerful performance doesnt come cheap, with high-end systems costing from $1 million up to $10 million each. High system prices and added revenues from software and servers tied to the systems make it the most profitable of all computing segments.

While IBM and GM didnt disclose the value of their deal, prices for fully configured 32-processor p690 servers start at around $2 million each, and considering that the agreement also includes software and services, the contract could well be for more than $20 million in revenue for IBM, based in Armonk, N.Y.

Once the 10 servers are deployed, they will be clustered together to create the auto industrys most powerful supercomputer, capable of processing 4 trillion calculations per second. The new hardware will boost GMs computing power by a factor of four, representatives of both companies said.

Detroit-based GM said its beefed-up computing power will enable the company to accelerate its vehicle-design process.

"IBM p690 systems allow us to try scenarios on the computer that would be impossible to perform using traditional prototypes," said Kirk Gutmann, Global Develop Product Information Officer at GM. "Designing our next-generation vehicles on IBM p690 helps us improve decision-making, speed cycle times and ultimately stay ahead of the competition."

GM will use the servers to run virtual crash simulations that can enable engineers to spot and resolve potential structural or safety problems before a new vehicle is even assembled for the first time.

Simulations will also be used to address driver-comfort issues, such as noise and vibration levels within the vehicle.

Each IBM p690 server will be packed with 32 64-bit Power 4 processors running at 1.3GHz, with 2GB of dedicated memory for each chip. Once harnessed together into a single system, the computer will offer total processing power of 2.3 teraflops, making it one of the 10 most powerful systems in the world.

Related stories:

  • IBM Wins Defense Department Contract
  • Jockeying for 64-Bit Server Position