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Business the star of supercomputing show

As companies explore the possibility of adding supercomputers to their IT portfolio, supercomputer prices continue to fall even as their power and flexibility for business use increases.

The growth of supercomputing as an enterprise IT option is one of the highlights of the SC2004 Supercomputing Conference, which kicks off today in Pittsburgh, USA.

Conference spokeswoman Betsy Riley said interest in the show had been given a boost by the work being done by supercomputers for traditional IT tasks inside corporations and outside the traditional science and research uses. "A big push for next year is business analytics," she said. "You'll see a lot of that this year."

Dave Turek, vice-president of deep computing at IBM, said the idea of using supercomputers in business IT settings was gaining popularity as prices came down at a time when business IT needs were increasing. He also pointed out that the greater efficiency of the latest hardware helped make supercomputers more of an option because of savings on energy use and cooling bills.

In the past, traditional supercomputer use included scientific research into areas such as weather, astronomy and biotechnology, as well as exploration for oil and gas. But Turek said organisations were starting to look at what supercomputers could do for their business.

As examples, he cited logistics companies (where supercomputers can help plan delivery routes, supplies, capacity and timing), credit card companies (for complex fraud detection analysis) and retailers (for intricate data mining). "Underneath, the mathematics of these problems all look the same whatever the business need."

Todd Weiss writes for Computerworld


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