RealTime IT News

IBM's Supercomputers Still Top the Field

IBM announced Thursday it sold a group of powerful supercomputers, as Big Blue boasted it still dominates the high-performance computer field.

IBM said the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Audi, and a German research center had chosen to use supercomputers based on IBM's eServer p690, which it unveiled in October 2001. The DoD supercomputer will be one of the largest in the world, IBM said.

The announcements were timed to coincide with the release of the Top500 List of the world's largest high-performance computers. The semiannual list, a joint project of Germany's University of Manheim and the University of Tennessee, was presented at the International Supercomputer Conference in Heidelberg, Germany. The list shows that HP, thanks to the Compaq merger, has pulled ahead of IBM with the largest share of the top 500.

However, Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM continues to enjoy a wide lead in processing power, with a 33.3 percent share, ahead of runners up HP (22.2 percent) and NEC (19 percent). The rankings are essentially unchanged from the Top500 survey in November 2001. Five of the top 10 systems ranked were from IBM.

"If you do analyze the top500 list, there tends to be a lot of change in the bottom," said Surjit Chana, vice president for high-performance computing. "The top of the list tells the story."

The DoD committed to using an IBM supercomputer named Blue Ocean in Naval Oceanographic Office (Navoceano) research into vaccines for malaria and other infectious diseases. IBM said the supercomputer, which has the ability to process more than 6 trillion calculations per second, would become the most powerful computer in the entire DoD.

Blue Ocean will be located at the Stennis Space Center, in Mississippi, as part of the DoD High Performance Computing Modernization Program.

Navoceano's six teraflop system uses 37 p690 servers, 1,184 IBM Power4 microprocessors, 1.5 terabytes of memory, and about 20 terabytes of data storage.

In addition to the DoD project, IBM said Audi bought a p690-based supercomputer to speed up the complex calculations needed in its sheet-metal simulations. The eight-processor system promises to double the previous computing power for the simulations.

Germany's High Performance Computing Center bought a p690-based supercomputer to use in its "Grand Challenge" research project, which aims to tackle thorny global issues in science, chemistry, life sciences, and climate modeling. The supercomputer boasts processing power of 4 trillion calculations per second.

According to the Top500 survey, nine p690-based supercomputers rank in the top 50 of the most powerful supercomputers in the world, including the eighth fastest, a computer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

In March, IBM and the U.S. Department of Energy accelerated a grid-computing plan to use two IBM supercomputers for scientific research.