RealTime IT News

IBM Edges Out Dell, EMC for Research Cluster

Supplanting Dell and EMC, , IBM said a university will bundle 273 of its blade server and Intel server systems for supercomputer to research and develop cancer, AIDS and Alzheimer's drugs.

The University at Buffalo Center of Excellence (COE) in Bioinformatics, The State University of New York, will use Big Blue's machines to study the structure and behavior of human proteins that fall prey to debilitating diseases.

Financial terms were not disclosed. But IBM said in a public statement the COE plans to use 266 BladeCenter HS20 systems running Red Hat Advance Server 2.1 Linux and seven xSeries 345 Intel servers, all of which tap into 5 terabytes of storage powered by the IBM FAStT700 servers.

Peak performance of the machine will clock in at 1.32 teraflops (a trillion floating points per second), Big Blue said. The supercomputer is the basis of the IBM eServer Cluster 1350, a pre-packaged supercomputer unveiled in May.

IBM said pricing for the cluster works on a sliding scale, based on cluster configuration requirements. IBM BladeCenter HS20 machines range between $2,629 with 2.4 GHz Intel Xeon to $4,239.00 for 3.2 GHz Xeon processors. x345 servers running 2.66 GHz Xeons retail for $1,999.

IBM's cluster will replace an existing system comprised of Dell servers and EMC storage. Dell had been driving the COE's computing power since 2002, with its PowerEdge servers.

IBM researchers will also chip in algorithms for discovering correlations among protein data.

COE Director Dr. Jeffrey Skolnick said the IBM cluster will be more than three times faster than the COE's current cluster and noted the product will deliver the performance 'we are looking for to make significant strides in protein structure and function prediction."

The COE specializes in bioinformatics, a practice that uses supercomputers to study biological data at the molecular level. The center leverages supercomputing and visualization, with knowledge in genomics, proteomics, bio-imaging and pharmaceutical sciences, to research issues in science and health care.

The University of Buffalo, with all of its different science divisions, frequently works with major systems vendors in the IT space. For example, in January UB announced that HP will deploy infrastructure technology and academic resources to drive the university's Center for Computational Research.

IBM vies for such supercomputing contracts versus the likes of HP, Sun Microsystems, Cray and SGI. All of the vendors also find themselves jockeying for position on the Top500 list of most powerful and speedy supercomputers each year.