Somers, N.Y. — IBM introduced a commercial version of ASCI White – one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. The new RS/6000 SP system uses performance-enhancing copper microprocessors, silicon switching technology and advanced software to provide e-businesses with the unmatched processing speed, near-infinite scalability and mainframe-class reliability needed to tackle the most demanding e-commerce applications.
Taking advantage of the recent shift in supercomputer usage from scientific research to business applications, the new RS/6000 SP offers dramatically enhanced commercial capability meant to appeal to both dot com startups as well as large corporate data centers. The new SP’s processing muscle was demonstrated on a key measure of commercial performance, the SPECint_rate95 benchmark, where a 16-way SP was faster than a Sun E10000 loaded with 40 processors.
“e-businesses can now purchase the same leading-edge IBM technology that powers ASCI White, the world’s fastest supercomputer,” said Rod Adkins, general manager, IBM Web Servers. “Companies can harness ASCI power to deliver the massive scalability and continuous availability required in e-business.”
The U.S Department of Energy has already purchased one of the new RS/6000 SP supercomputers – the classified ASCI White system announced last month. Dedicated to simulating nuclear testing, the DOE machine is the fastest supercomputer ever built. ASCI White contains more than 8,100 microprocessors and is capable of processing 12.3 trillion calculations per second – thirty thousand times faster than an average personal computer.
The SP’s outstanding commercial performance makes it ideal for handling workloads like Web-serving, business intelligence and large parallel databases as well as for consolidating large numbers of smaller servers. More than 70 percent of all IBM supercomputers sold are used for commercial applications; and some of the world’s most powerful e-commerce Websites are powered by RS/6000 SP supercomputers. The SP’s massively parallel architecture enables e-businesses, beginning with as few as four processors, to rack and stack hundreds or thousands of computing modules and manage them to ensure optimum utilization and continuous availability.
“IBM’s supercomputer lets a fast-growing business like ours add additional power quickly and easily,” said Carol Dingle of Digital Insight, a provider of Internet banking services. “It offers the kind of scalability and manageability that businesses need today.”
The RS/6000 SP offers a host of features to increase performance and reliability:
* Copper. Much of the supercomputer’s extraordinary speed is derived from its POWER3-II microprocessors, built with IBM’s breakthrough copper chip technology. Microprocessors that use copper wire are faster than those containing traditional aluminum wire because copper is a better electrical conductor.
* High-bandwidth switch. Speed is further enhanced by the SP’s new high bandwidth switch, which allows the microprocessors to exchange data with each other at a rate of up to 500MB/second – a more than threefold improvement over IBM’s previous switch technology. The new SP switch has improved diagnostic capabilities and hot-swappable components.
* Software. The RS/6000 SP offers mainframe-class reliability, availability and serviceability features implemented through software. Dynamic CPU deallocation isolates potential processor problems and keeps applications running. Parallel System Support Programs (PSSP) enables cluster management from a single point of control. Scheduling of interactive or batch jobs is enhanced with LoadLeveler software, which improves automatic failure detection and job rescheduling.
In key technical and commercial benchmarks, the new RS/6000 SP has quickly proven itself to be a star performer, trouncing Sun E10000 systems containing far more processors.
A 16-way RS/6000 SP scored 6353 in the SPECfp_rate95 technical benchmark, substantially greater than the 6013 posted by a 64-way Sun E10000. SPECfp_rate95 measures floating-point performance, critical to technical applications such as seismic/petroleum exploration, aircraft design analysis, weather forecasting and computational fluid dynamics.
“This computer can solve tremendously complex problems with unprecedented speed; it’s an incredible achievement,” said Landry Bernard, technical director of the U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office, which relies on an earlier version of the RS/6000 SP for applications like oceanographic modeling and ship design. “IBM’s latest SP technology ensures that there is an upgrade path to meet future needs.”
The SP also routed a far larger Sun E10000 in the SPECint_rate95 benchmark, which gauges commercial performance. A 16-way RS/6000 SP achieved a benchmark score of 3352, compared with the 40-way E10000’s score of 3196.
The RS/6000 SP holds the leadership position in the supercomputing arena. According to the TOP500 Supercomputer List, SPs account for 144 of the world’s 500 most powerful high performance computers – more than any other machine.
The TOP500 List illustrates the growing importance of supercomputers to business computing. More than half of the machines on the list are used for commercial applications, and eight of the top ten business supercomputers are RS/6000 SP systems.
The “TOP500 Supercomputing Sites” list is compiled and published by supercomputing experts Jack Dongarra from the University of Tennessee and Erich Strohmaier and Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim (Germany). The entire list can be viewed at http://www.top500.org . For more information about RS/6000 systems and the AIX operating system, see the RS/6000 home page at http://www.rs6000.ibm.com .