IBM Opens Supercomputing Center in Europe

The new facility in France gives researchers and engineers access to computing power that would otherwise be difficult to afford.

IBM is opening a supercomputing-on-demand center in Europe to enable customers to access supercomputing power without having to invest in the hardware.

The Deep Computing Capacity on Demand Center in Montpellier, France, is the second one IBM has opened. The first, in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., was opened in June 2003 and reached 100 percent capacity within three months, said Mark Solomon, program director for IBMs Deep Computing on Demand initiative, in an interview Thursday.

IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., has since grown the New York facility from 512 servers to about 2,300, but it still is running at 83 percent capacity, Solomon said. The company also is considering opening a third center, he said.

"Weve created a new model for supercomputing that has proven to be quite successful to the point where were opening up a new center," Solomon said.

The centers give researchers and engineers access to large amounts of computing power that otherwise would be difficult to afford. Customers can load their applications onto the centers servers and run them, paying for only the power they use. IBM engineers currently are working on grid technology that would enable them to link the two centers, allowing for workloads to be passed between them and for each to back up the other, Solomon said.

Both centers offer a mix of eServer pSeries systems running AIX—IBMs Unix operating system—or Linux, and Intel Corp.-based xSeries systems running Linux or Microsoft Corp.s Windows OS, all with necessary disk storage. In addition, the centers offer IBMs eServer 325, which is powered by Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s 64-bit Opteron chip.

The Montpellier center will offer 12 32-way p690 servers and about 256 xSeries systems, Solomon said.

As the centers mature, IBM officials hope to bring more grid technology and management capabilities to them to create a utility computing environment in which customers could quickly plug into the systems and run their work, Solomon said.

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