IBM tapped for US Army supercomputer

The U.S. Army has tapped IBM to provide a high-performance computing system using Opteron processors from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), in a project that aims to create one of the fastest supercomputers in the world.

The 2,304-central processing unit (CPU) system is also seen as a win for AMD as it manages to get its 64-bit x86 chips in a major high-performance computing system. The system will be based in the Army Research Laboratory Major Shared Resource Center (ARL MSRC) in Maryland for use by U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) researchers for testing and development of advanced military systems, according to an announcement Tuesday from IBM.

The cluster will use 1186 IBM eServer e325 nodes, each of which will be fitted with dual 2.2-GHz Opteron processors and run Novell's SuSE Linux operating system. They will be connected using Myricom's Myrinet networking equipment and boast a computing capacity of 10 teraflops, IBM said.

The company added that it expects the cluster to be one of the 20 fastest supercomputers in the world.

The system is due to be delivered in September and the deal is valued at "tens of millions" of U.S. dollars, an IBM spokeswoman said.

David Turek, IBM's vice president of Deep Computing, said that the deal underscores the company's expertise in high-performance computing.

"Our involvement in this segment goes back 17 or 18 years and has generated significant business for us," Turek said.

He said the Army selected AMD processors for this system because they mapped with their existing technologies and budget.

"What we've learned is that these (high-performance) systems are so diverse and that there is no such thing as one size fits all, which is why we offer a range of technologies," Turek said.

The cluster's future home is one of four supercomputing sites run by the DOD's High Performance Computing Modernization Office (HPCMO), which announced in March that ARL MSRC planned to up its computing capacity by 15 teraflops with the addition of a 2,132-CPU Linux NetworX Evolocity II system running Intel's Xeon 3.6-GHz processors. In March it also said that it planned to add a Silicon Graphics 256-processor, single-system-image Altix system, which will add 2 teraflops to the high-performance computing center.

The center is adding the systems as part of an initiative to modernize the DOD's high-performance computing capabilities and represent the first major commodity-based symmetric multiprocessor supercomputers used by HPCMO, the Army Research Laboratory said.

The most recent Army supercomputer win comes one week after IBM said that the DOD selected the company to deploy high-performance systems for its Naval Oceanographic Office Major Shared Resource Center. Once deployed, the company said that it expects the systems to include on of the fastest supercomputer clusters in the world. The systems will use IBM eServer p655 systems and be based on the company's Power4+ processors.

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