IBM to provide US Army supercomputer

The US Army has asked IBM to provide a high-performance computing system using Opteron processors from Advanced Micro Devices, in...

The US Army has asked 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-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 for use by US Department of Defense researchers for testing and developing of advanced military systems, according to 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 10Tflops, 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 dollars, an IBM spokeswoman said.

David Turek, IBM's vice-president of Deep Computing, said the army selected AMD processors for this system because they mapped with their existing technologies and budget.

"What we have 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," he said.

The cluster's future home is one of four supercomputing sites run by the defence department's High Performance Computing Modernization Office, which announced in March that the shared resource centre planned to up its computing capacity by 15Tflops 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 2Tflops to the high-performance computing centre.

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

The most recent army supercomputer win comes one week after IBM said the Department of Defense selected the company to deploy high-performance systems for its Naval Oceanographic Office Major Shared Resource Center.

Once deployed, the company said it expects the systems to include one 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.

Scarlet Pruitt writes for IDG News Service

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