IBM to supply South Korea with powerful supercomputer

IBM has been awarded a contract to supply the Korea Institute of Science Technology and Information (KISTI) with a supercomputer that is expected to be one of the fastest in the world when it is fully installed in 2003.

The US$27 million supercomputer is one of IBM's as-yet unannounced eServers, code-named "Regatta," based on a new version of the company's Power 4 processor, an IBM source said. The new computers are scheduled to be officially launched later this year.

The model being supplied to South Korea will be installed over several phases, the first part of which is scheduled for completion by the end of the year, and when fully installed will be capable of performing 4.24 trillion calculations per second. Were it to be installed today, the machine would be the most powerful in Asia and one of the top ten most powerful supercomputers in the world, said IBM in a statement.

Currently Asia's most powerful supercomputer is a machine at the University of Tokyo manufactured by Hitachi Ltd., according to the latest top 500 supercomputer sites ranking issued in June. Among Asian supercomputers, those in Japan occupy the top 12 places in the survey with an IBM machine owned by an unspecified financial institution in Hong Kong ranking as the fastest machine in the region outside of Japan. The Hong Kong supercomputer ranks number 56 on the world survey.

The new computer would significantly increase South Korea's computing power. Its most powerful machine, according to the supercomputer ranking, is an NEC Corp. machine installed at the Korea Meteorological Administration, which is the 26th most powerful in Asia and 113th in the world.

The KISTI supercomputer will be utilized in life science, physics, chemistry and fluid mechanics work and also for high performance computing research projects. KISTI plans to share its computing power with research and academic communities in and outside of Korea, said IBM.

At the same time it signed the contract to supply the machine, IBM also inked a memorandum of understanding with KITSI to cooperate on the building of a Technical Support Center for High Performance Computing and Life Sciences. IBM will provide technical expertise and resources to the center and also assign 15 engineers, it said.

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