Top 10 Ways IBM Plans to Create a Smarter Planet

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Top 10 Ways IBM Plans to Create a Smarter Planet

by Darryl K. Taft

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IBM Invests Billions in R&D

In 2009, IBM invested approximately $6 billion to spur technology innovations. This year, 41 IBM employees earned coveted Fellow and Distinguished Engineer awards for technical leadership.

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New Labs Now Available for Client Use

IBM's Systems group employs 23,000 employees to staff 37 labs in 17 countries. IBM Software employs 65,000 employees to staff 70 labs in 30 countries. IBM recently announced its ninth global research lab, in Brazil, to develop technology for a smarter planet. On June 16, IBM plans to open a new lab in Massachusetts—its largest software development site in North America. In May it open a new development lab in Manchester, England.

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On a Boat, on a Desert or on a Glacier

IBM systems, like the System z mainframe, have unique processor technology that allows its servers to withstand extreme temperatures and vibrations. A System z mainframe in Antarctica, aboard a warship or in a desert (like Namibia, where the country just installed its first mainframe) will continue to run despite environmental changes.

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Bringing Mars to Earth

IBM's PowerPC microprocessor solidified its status as the most versatile and durable chip architecture in our solar system. PowerPC is at the heart of the BAE Systems RAD6000 Single Board Computer, a specialized system enabling the Mars Rovers—Spirit and Opportunity—to explore, examine and even photograph the far reaches of Mars.

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Fighting Tuberculosis

Texas A&M University uses IBM supercomputing technology to carry out potentially life-saving tuberculosis research at a rate more than four times faster than was previously possible. Scientists at the Texas A&M Supercomputing Facility built a software package called the "parallel Genome Analysis Pipeline" (pGAP) to help fight tuberculosis by more quickly analyzing the genome of mutated strains.

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Air Conditioning the Planet

Big Blue is working with automation specialists such as Johnson Controls and Honeywell to link the controls that manage the environmental conditions in the worlds structures to the Internet. IBM plans on adding a much-needed layer of intelligence and IP-enabled networking to the switches, cables, pumps, heaters and other mechanical gear that heat and cool our modern infrastructure, to allow these systems to become full-fledged members of an enterprise's IT operations.

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East Meets West for Medication Efficacy

South China's largest hospital, Guang Dong Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, is applying new IBM analytics technology to help doctors uncover trends and new knowledge about disease treatment from thousands of anonymous electronic medical records. The tool will also enable clinicians to perform empirical studies on the efficacy of certain traditional Chinese treatments.

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Inventing a Smarter Planet

For the 17th year in a row, IBM led all companies in U.S. patents with more than 4,900 patents received in 2009. U.S. Patent 7,529,873 describes an invention that, in crisis situations within a major city center, can allow designated experts to reroute traffic or public transportation flow for faster emergency response. Emergency response teams can also reconfigure mobile phone networks to prioritize calls from response teams ahead of those from the general public to ensure faster communication.

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Faster, Greener and Cheaper

At the heart of IBM's new Power Systems is the latest entry in the Power CPU lineup, Power7. The new microprocessor features an innovative, multicore 45-nanometer design in four-, six- and eight-core options with up to 32 threads per single socket. The new Power7 processors run at speeds of more than 4.1GHz, faster than any competitive processor. Each chip has more than 1.2 billion transistors, as well as energy-saving firmware to improve performance per watt and reduce energy costs.

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Getting Smarter About Storage

IBM recently introduced a new feature invented by IBM Research for its DS8700 disk storage system that makes it easier and more economical to manage data. The IBM System Storage Easy Tier feature uses ongoing performance monitoring to move only the most active data to faster solid-state drives, which can eliminate the need for manual storage tier policies and help reduce costs. The technology actually gets smarter over time about where to put the data.

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