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IBM Launches Supercomputing Center

Positioning its high-performance technical computing offerings to reach more customers, IBM has opened its first Deep Computing Capacity on Demand center in Europe.

The facility, located in Montpellier, France, will offer customers access to IBM eServer pSeries AIX or Linux servers and xSeries systems running Linux or Microsoft Windows. It is the second such building from Big Blue, joining the Armonk, N.Y., company's operation in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

The goal of the centers is to make supercomputing, once relegated to back-office academia and scientific research, more accessible to commercial customers, allowing companies enjoy the benefits of a lot of power without the costs and management associated with owning their own supercomputer.

Often used for specialized applications that require immense amounts of mathematical calculations, supercomputers generally consist of several servers put to one task. With superior performance, high availability and reliability compared to standalone machines, massively parallel computing with high speed clusters has the potential to address several key business issues.

IBM and competitors HP , Sun Microsystems and Dell are all working toward this goal, tacking on commercial contracts because of the dollars they can bring to their server businesses.

Just last month, IBM inked a contract with General Motors to provide to provide 145 p655 servers for the automaker to use in vehicle development and virtual crash simulations.

IBM's Montpelier and Poughkeepsie centers aim to offer supercomputing power on tap to companies from such walks of business as petroleum, life sciences, digital animation and financial services.

For example, Mentor Graphics, a specialist in electronic design automation, will be one of the first to use IBM's Montpellier center, using supercomputing power to test IC designs for manufacturing. Mentor will draw computing resources from pSeries 690 systems, as well as xSeries systems based in Poughkeepsie.

Supercomputing on-demand seems to be in high demand. To accommodate more customers, IBM said it recently expanded its Poughkeepsie center to include more than 2,300 IBM xSeries Intel Xeon processor, eServer AMD Opteron processor, and BladeCenter systems.

The company also plans to implement grid technologies to enable resource sharing within and across the two Deep Computing Capacity on demand centers. IBM expects the grids will enable an alternative pay-for use model to complement the existing reservation model.