Big Blue has given Warwick an S/390 mainframe and software to help the university create development tools for the grid, a global system to share the power of supercomputers, which is seen as the successor to the World-Wide Web.
The gift is also aimed at introducing university students to the joys of mainframe computing after years of Web skills dominating academic IT departments.
The donation is added to $1m from the US Navy, NASA and the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency last year for Warwick to conduct grid research.
Graham Nudd, chairman of the university's department of computer science, said, "This will put us at the forefront of the development of what will be the next generation of global computer networking to follow the World-Wide Web."
Doug Neilson, systems consultant at IBM's Systems Enterprise Group, said, "The basic concept is to make available the power of the world's supercomputers to solve difficult problems. The S/390 mainframe, however, is a good platform for the development of grid tools."
IBM is involved in the European Datagrid project, which co-ordinates grid work across the continent.
The company also expects the University of Warwick's S/390 to boost mainframe skills among the next generation of IT practitioners.
Nicholas Donofrio, IBM's senior vice-president of technology and manufacturing, said, "This investment will provide an environment where many universities and our customers across Europe can develop the skills so desperately required by business. The new S/390 will also run Linux, giving the capability for hundreds of Linux images for student and academic use."