IBM beefs up clustering options

Hoping to strengthen its position in the clustering market, IBM on Wednesday rolled out a new version of its eServer Cluster 1350 powered by AMD's dual-core Opteron chip. Company officials contend the offering will give users access to a broader range of higher-end applications.

The product, which supports the new AMD Opteron LS20cq for IBM eServer BladeCenter, reportedly provides customers with enhanced node choices for memory-intensive applications, company officials said. IBM also plans to use the chip in its IntelliStation A Pro 6217 and its eServer 326.

With its higher capacity, IBM officials believe the Cluster 1350 will be targeted at markets with compute-intensive applications including financial services, industrial, petroleum, and life sciences, as well as those users looking to build on-demand computing environments.

One life sciences user that apparently is benefiting from the system's added power is the University at Buffalo, which is using the Cluster 1350 to help in its study of human protein behavior and to aid in the design of drugs to treat a number of diseases including cancer, Alzheimer's AIDS, and multiple sclerosis.

"This product has more than doubled the speed of our previous cluster, enabling us to shave critical time off achieving tangible results in our research," said Jeffrey Skolnick, director of the university's Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics. "It can deliver the kind of performance we need to make significant strides in protein structure and function prediction," he said.

IBM said it plans to expand the choice of switch and interconnect options that are available for the Cluster 1350 to better help users build clustered environments that can be tailored to their specific applications. For example, the Cluster 1350 now supports the Voltaire InfiniBand Switch Router 9288, which supports up to 10GBps of bandwidth.

In a related announcement, IBM said the eServer pSeries 710 and 720 nodes, which can serve as management and storage nodes, are now available for clusters using JS20 compute nodes. With the availability of these servers, users can now build Cluster 1350 configurations made up of only Power-based systems, company officials said, although corporate users can continue to build cluster using a mix of Intel-, AMD-, and Power-based nodes.

New updates for the eServer Cluster 1350 are currently scheduled for mid-July.

Pricing for the Opteron-based LS20 for eServer BladeCenter, which can be ordered now, starts at US$2,259.

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