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

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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