IBM to Build Three New Supercomputers

Want to know about the weather forecast tomorrow?

Ask IBM.

The Armonk, N.Y., IT giant announced Jan. 31 that it has completed the construction of two new supercomputers as part of its nine-year CRM contract with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In 2002, when the federal government awarded the $224.4 million contract, it ranked as IBM’s largest contract ever.

Once the two new computers go online, the primary and backup systems will rank as 36th and 37th on the top 500 list of world’s fastest supercomputers, IBM announced. The top spot on the list belongs to IBM’s Blue Gene/L system, which the company installed at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in Livermore, Calif.

Click here to read more about the world’s top 500 supercomputers.

These two new supercomputers will use 160 IBM System p575 servers, which will be powered by 16 1.9GHz Power 5+ processors. The computers will contain 160 terabytes of IBM’s DS4800 disk storage systems.

Each supercomputer will be able to process 14 teraflops (trillion calculations per second) when performing at maximum capacity. The machines will also be able to sort through 240 million global weather observations each day, according to IBM.

Primarily, the two new supercomputers will work in tangent with six weather satellites that NOAA launched in 2006 to better understand the flow of the planet’s jet streams and the effect they have on storm systems.

NOAA, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is based in Washington D.C. The primary supercomputer will be located at Camp Springs, Md., while the backup system will be housed in Virginia.

In addition to its work with NOAA, IBM announced that it will build a supercomputer for the Max Planck Society in Munich, Germany. The facility provides research into the natural sciences, as well as the social sciences and humanities.

The computer, which will go online in 2008, will also use IBM’s System p servers to deliver a supercomputer that will process 100 teraflops. (By comparison, the Blue Gene/L system provides 280.6 teraflops.)

This supercomputer, which will use IBM’s Power6 processors, will offer 20 times the application performance of the facility’s current supercomputer.

Once finished, the supercomputer will be used for research in the materials science, astrophysics and quantum computing. The society will also receive a Blue Gene system, according to IBM.

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