IBM Brings High-Performance Computing to Houston

The company's third supercomputing center will focus on the energy industry.

IBM will open its third high-performance computing center, this one geared toward the energy industry.

IBM officials announced Thursday that the new Deep Computing Capacity on Demand Center in Houston will complement the companys existing ones in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., which opened last year, and Montpellier, France, which launched in May.

The goal of the centers is to enable businesses that need rapid access to computing power to tap into the systems in the centers. Users get access to the computing power but dont have to shell out the money for the servers. Instead, they pay IBM a fee for the power they use.

The petroleum industry has been a frequent user of the compute power in the first two centers, a key reason for opening the third one in Houston, according to David Gelardi, vice president of deep computing at IBM, of Armonk, N.Y.

"Its the nature of their business," Gelardi said. "When they find something interesting as they look for new places to drill for oil, or model [an area where oil has been found], they very quickly want to understand that data theyve got."

They can quickly tap into the compute power at the center to crunch the numbers, he said. Other industries, including pharmaceuticals, banking and life sciences, also have the same need for quick access to compute power.

In addition, there is the metropolitan area network, created by Houston-area companies, that IBM will tap into to facilitate rapid exchange of data between the center and its area customers, Gelardi said.

The center, which will open by Oct. 1, will initially feature 512 xSeries systems powered by 1,000 Xeon processors from Intel Corp. As the center grows, more systems will be added, Gelardi said. The configurations of the new systems will depend on customer demand.

Landmark Graphics, a software and services company that serves the oil and gas industry and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Halliburton Co., will be the anchor client at the center. Landmark will use a percentage of the compute power in the center to run various software, including its Rapid Prospect Generation Engine, which is used for such tasks as imaging, for its clients. Landmark will pay IBM for CPU hours used in accordance with a contract between the two companies, Gelardi said.

He said IBM is looking to open more deep computing centers around the world, though the company has yet to determine how many.


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