IBM, HP Get Military Infrastructures Contracts

IBM will install a supercomputer for the military, the water-cooled Power 575 Hydro-Cluster, which uses IBM Power6 processors. HP will develop a cloud computing infrastructure for the Department of Defense.

IBM and Hewlett-Packard are signing separate agreements to build out new computing infrastructures for the U.S. military.

On July 10, IBM and HP each announced that they had signed new agreements with the Department of Defense to deliver new hardware and services to different sections of the military. IBM is set to deliver a new water-cooled supercomputer, while HP has agreed to develop a cloud computing infrastructure for DISA (Defense Information Systems Agency).

The agreements with the government give HP and IBM a public platform to showcase the new technologies for a larger audience. In this case, both companies are showing off their latest technologies for creating massive computing infrastructures that have begun to draw interest from financial services and businesses looking to develop data centers to support Web 2.0 applications.

In the case of IBM, the company has already begun to install and test a new supercomputer cluster at the Naval Oceanographic Office's Major Shared Resource Center (MSRC) at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

The new supercomputer cluster will be based on IBM's Power 575 Hydro-Cluster high-performance computer, which the company developed with a new water cooling system that cools individual processors within the system. The machine is set up with a grid overlay, with water-chilled copper plates placed above each processor. The cooling system absorbs the heat and then removes the water and heat from the rack.

This supercomputer uses IBM's Power6 processors - 4.7GHz clock speed - and is made up of 149 computer nodes, which each support 32 processing cores. This machine will also use the IBM AIX operating system - the company's version of Unix - and will measure about 800 square feet and use 850 kilowatts of power.

When complete, this system will offer a peak performance of 90 teraflops or 90 trillion calculations per second, which the DOD estimates is more than four times as powerful as the older system that it is replacing.

DOD and Navy researchers are planning to use IBM cluster to map the ocean floor, currents and temperatures to make it easy for commercial and military ships to maneuver in the waters off the United States. The maps that this system will produce will also be used by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to better predict weather and ocean patterns.

On July 10, HP also announced that DISA will use a combination of HP hardware, software and management applications to help build out a new cloud computing infrastructure called RACE (Rapid Access Computing Environment).

DISA, which provides all the communications and information systems management for the DOD, will use RACE to provision resources for its test and development systems, which will allow it to funnel those computing resources through a single interface.

While cloud computing is seen as a way to build out the type of Web 2.0 infrastructures being created by Google and Amazon, DISA plans to use those same technologies to draw on computing resources when additional resources are needed.

At the same time, companies such as HP and IBM are looking to become the primary suppliers of the hardware, software and services needed to build out the type of hyper-scale data centers used to support cloud computing. In HP's case, the company recently introduced a new system - the ProLiant BL2x220c G5 - that is specifically designed for Web 2.0 infrastructures.