IBM Building Supercomputing Grids

Instead of having to buy and maintain servers, businesses can tap into an IBM supercomputing grid when they need the extra power and pay only for the power they use.

IBM on Thursday unveiled a service that gives businesses in need of supercomputing power access to clusters of high-powered IBM systems.

IBMs service, part of its eBusiness on Demand push, is designed to make computing power a variable cost for customers, many of whom only need the power at certain points every year. Instead of having to buy and maintain servers when they need the extra power—and then watch them sit idle when the demand is not there—businesses can tap into an IBM supercomputing grid and pay only for the power they use, said David Turek, vice president of supercomputing at IBM.

Businesses can access the Intel- and IBM Power-based grids over the Internet via a VPN, Turek said.

He said certain business segments—including petroleum and life sciences—many times require supercomputers to deal with huge computational applications.

IBMs first hosting facility will be in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Turek said. That will be followed by others around the world, all of which will be linked together.

The grid will comprise hundreds of Unix-based IBM eServer p655 systems that can hold as many as 128 Power4 processors in a single frame, and a huge Linux cluster of IBM eServer x335 and x345 rack-mounted systems powered by Intel Xeon chips.

Turek said IBM will work closely with customers on a case-by-case basis to put their applications on the grid and to develop security and access policies. The company currently is still working out a pricing plan.

Gateway Inc. last month announced a similar grid plan with United Devices Inc. designed to tap the unused computing resources of the 8,000 display PCs sitting in its 272 Gateway Country Stores. The Poway, Calif., company also is giving businesses on-demand access to that computing power.