GM running 10 IBM Unix servers as supercomputer

General Motors Corp. (GM) has purchased 17 of IBM Corp.'s p690 servers to create a powerful supercomputing cluster for the design of new automobiles, IBM said in a release Thursday.

Ten of the IBM p690 servers have been linked in a cluster at GM's headquarters in Detroit, said Peter Ungaro, vice president of high-performance computing at IBM. GM is also using six stand-alone p690 servers at the Detroit facility in conjunction with the cluster for safety analysis, or crash simulations, and vehicle vibration control for smoother rides, he said. The other p690 was bought for the company's subsidiary Saab AB in Trollhattan, Sweden.

The machines were purchased and shipped months ago, but formally announced Thursday.

The p690 servers being used are 32-way servers powered by 64-bit Power4 processors running at 1.3GHz and featuring 2G bytes of memory. The list price for a 32-way server with these features is US$2.1 million, but IBM declined to say how much GM paid for the servers. Each server is running IBM's proprietary version of Unix, AIX.

GM had bought another six p690 servers for its Adam Opel AG subsidiary in Russelsheim, Germany. The purchase of the six machines in Germany had already been announced, IBM said.

IBM has been working with GM for several months on migrating the automaker off its older Unix systems onto the p690s, Ungaro said, declining to identify the vendor of GM's previous servers.

IBM introduced the p690, once known as Regatta, in October of last year.

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