IBM, Qwest to Equip $53M NSF Research Network

IBM Corp., Armonk, N.Y., and network provider Qwest Communications International Inc., Denver, were chosen to support the National Science Foundation's three-year $53 million grid computing project, the agency announced Aug. 9.

Qwest will provide the fiber-optic network, and IBM will contribute Linux server clusters and storage technologies.

This grid networking project, called the Distributed Terascale Facility, is a joint undertaking of the San Diego Supercomputing Center, the California Institute of Technology in Los Angeles, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications in Champaign-Urbana, Ill., and the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago.

The system will link supercomputers from these four research facilities, forming a single, seamless distributed processing facility.

Capable of processing 13.6 teraflops (trillions of calculations per second), the expected system will enable climate modeling, drug development and other calculation-intensive tasks that now lie beyond the range of any single supercomputer. It will also have 600 terabytes of storage data storage.

IBM will provide the servers, containing Intel Corp.'s next generation Itanium microprocessors, to link the labs' high-performance computers. IBM supercomputing software will handle cluster and file management tasks, and the company will provide some of the storage solutions as well. It will also use cluster-scalable fiber interconnects from optical equipment provider Myricom Inc., Arcadia, Calif.

IBM plans to have the servers installed by the third quarter of 2002.

Qwest will provide a dedicated optical network that will initially operate at 40 gigabits per second and later be upgraded to 50 to 80 gigabits per second. The network will use Qwest facilities operating among San Diego, Los Angeles and Chicago. Qwest's network will also link to Internet2 and other research networks.

"Nothing like the Distributed Terascale Facility has ever been attempted before. This will be the largest, most comprehensive infrastructure ever deployed for open scientific research," said Dan Reed, director of NCSA. "This is the infrastructure that will allow us to solve the most pressing scientific problems of our time."

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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