IBM Server to Power Linux Supercomputer

The 64-bit Opteron-based eServer 325 will be a major part of a system that IBM's claims will be the world's most powerful Linux supercomputer.

IBM on Wednesday introduced its eServer 325, its first system based on Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s 64-bit Opteron chip.

The two-way, 1U (1.75-inch) system includes three models based on Opterons 240, 242 and 246 flavors, and will run both Linux and Microsoft Corp.s Windows operating systems.

IBM also announced that the 325 will be a major part of a Linux supercomputer the company is building for Japans National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.

According to company officials, the supercomputer will be powered by 2,636 processors, including 2,116 Opteron chips in 1,058 eServer 325 servers. When completed, the supercomputer—which will run SuSE AGs Linux Enterprise Server 8 and incorporate the Globus Toolkit 3.0 and the Open Grid Services Infrastructure—will be able to run 11 trillion calculations per second. IBM officials say the system will be the worlds most powerful Linux supercomputer, used for researching such subjects as grid technologies, life sciences and nanotechnology.

Eventually the Japanese institute will link with other non-Linux systems to create a massive grid.

Mark Shearer, vice president of IBMs eServer products, said AMDs chip, which can run both 32-bit and 64-bit applications, will play an important role in his companys systems portfolio, which also includes systems based on Intel Corp. technology and IBMs own PowerPC chips. IBM early next year will roll out a workstation that also will be based on Opteron.

"A lot of our customers are intrigued by [64-bit computing], but want to be able to leverage their existing application base, a lot of which is based on the 32-bit Linux architecture," said Shearer, in Somers, N.Y.

Opterons ability to run both 32-bit and 64-bit applications gives users the flexibility they want as they move into 64-bit computing, he said. Shearer added that the rack-mounted 325 can run both types of applications simultaneously. It also will be available through IBMs deep computing-on-demand facility in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where users can access the grid and pay only for the power they use. The computing grid also includes Intel- and PowerPC-based systems.

In addition, IBM will offer the 325 as part of its Cluster 1350 offering, which includes clusters powered by PowerPC chips.

AMD, of Sunnyvale, Calif., in April unveiled its much anticipated Opteron chip for servers and workstations, with IBM giving it the much-needed top-tier OEM support. Though the 325 is aimed at high-performance computing customers, Shearer said it is available to commercial customers as well.

Starting at $2,919, the server will start shipping Sept. 30.

AMD on Sept. 23 will launch its 64-bit chip for desktops, Athlon 64, at an event in San Francisco.