IBM supercomputer heads north

The Arctic Region Supercomputing Center (ARSC) has purchased an IBM Corp. supercomputer consisting of systems with a total of 800 Power4 processors.

ARSC will use the computing power to study the currents and depths of the Gulf of Alaska in a bid to better understand the movement and numbers of salmon and whitefish, according to IBM officials. A combination of 92 eServer p655 systems, each with eight Power4 processors, and two eServer p690 systems, each with 32 Power4 processors, make up the Iceberg supercomputer.

Complex, three-dimensional models of a constantly changing environment like an ocean require powerful computers such as the Iceberg, which will be able to process 5 trillion operations per second, IBM said. IBM's AIX operating system will be used on the Iceberg.

The deal is worth US$15 million, IBM said, and its 5 trillion operations per second will put Iceberg in sixth place on the list of the world's most powerful supercomputers as ranked by the Web site http://www.Top500.org.

IBM recently announced an initiative to offer supercomputing power on-demand over the Internet, and has signed up a data processing company for the energy industry as an initial client.

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