IBM Taps Opteron for High-Performance Computing

IBM used Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s launch Tuesday of its long-awaited 64-bit Opteron chip to bulk up its offerings to the high-performance computing world.

IBM used Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s launch Tuesday of its long-awaited 64-bit Opteron chip to bulk up its offerings to the high-performance computing world.

The Armonk, N.Y., company on Tuesday gave AMD its much-needed top-tier OEM support when Mark Shearer, vice president of IBMs eServer products group, came on stage at the launch event in New York and said his company will unveil servers in the second half of the year that will feature the Opteron chip. Shearer said in an interview at the event that the first servers armed with Opteron will be aimed at the high-performance computing field, where the chips ability to run both 32-bit and 64-bit workloads is in demand.

"Many of these customers want the benefits of 64-bit power, but theyve been saying they want to keep their 32-bit [applications] as well," Shearer said. "Feedback from our high-performance computing customers was really the inspiration for [IBMs presence at the Opteron launch]."

Intel Corp. uses its Xeon line of processors for 32-bit computing, while it has optimized its Itanium processor—which is a brand new architecture—for 64-bit computing.

Shearer also said Opteron-powered servers will be introduced into IBMs Supercomputing On Demand program, where users in temporary need of supercomputing power can tap into an IBM hosting facility, paying only for resources used.

Currently the initiative offers computing resources from Intel-powered systems, Shearer said. IBM is working in systems also powered by Opteron and its own line of 64-bit Power chips, which should be up and running later this quarter, he said.

IBM also is rolling out a new group within the organization that will focus primarily on high-performance computing customers, Shearer said. The deep computing group, which will be run by David Turek, who will be vice president of deep computing, will present customers a wide range of offerings—from systems running Intel, Power and Opteron chips, to services, software and storage.

Turek had been the vice president of Linux clusters and grid computing at IBM.

"This is a dedicated business unit for deep computing," which Shearer said will have its own sales and support staff. That will make life simpler for users, who in the past had to deal with Intel salespeople if they wanted Intel-based systems, and another set of salespeople if they wanted Power-based systems, he said.

"Many of our customers use a combination of these," he said.

Konrad Feldman, CEO of Searchspace Corp., a software maker whose products help companies gain insight into their businesses to detect such problems as fraud and money-laundering, said IBMs deep computing initative makes sense to companies that need a combination of high computing power and advanced software.

"Ultimately, some of the problems were solving cant be solved simply by computing power," said Feldman, whose New York company is also an IBM partner. "You also need sophisticated software, sophisticated algorithms."

IBM is bringing the right combination of both by offering a wide range of options from a single business organization, he said.

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