IBM to build Navy supercomputer

The Defense Department has tapped IBM Corp. to build a supercomputing cluster at the Naval Oceanographic Office (Navoceano) Major Shared Resource Center in Mississippi, the company said today. It is the latest in a string of supercomputers that IBM has deployed for Navoceano.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although it has been reported the price tag is in the tens of millions of dollars.

The 3,000-processor system from Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM will be the largest that DOD has ever built, effectively tripling the computing power at Navoceano, said Cray Henry, head of the department's High Performance Computing Modernization Program.

"The new IBM system?will enable DOD scientists and engineers to solve complex problems previously impossible with smaller systems," Henry said.

The Navy's new supercomputer will be built with 368 IBM eServer p655 systems running the company's Power 4 processor platform and AIX operating system. It is expected to deliver 20 teraflops of peak performance, which would likely place it among the top 10 fastest supercomputers in the world, according to the Top 500 an authoritative ranking published annually by a committee of supercomputing experts in Germany and the United States.

Currently, the world's fastest supercomputer is Japan's Earth Simulator, built by NEC Corp. and operating at a theoretical peak speed of 40 teraflops.

In 2000, IBM built a 2-teraflop system for Navoceano, which, at the time, was among the top 5 fastest in the world and 170 times more powerful than its technological predecessor, IBM's Deep Blue supercomputer. Deep Blue gained fame for defeating chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997.

In 2002, IBM built Navoceano's 6-teraflop Blue Ocean supercomputer.

The Navoceano resource center supports operational as well as research and development projects for the Defense Department. Projects include researching new military aircraft, ship and vehicle designs, improved missile and projectile design and high-resolution meteorology and oceanography.

"These sophisticated computational capabilities will help to produce improved, more realistic simulations and analyses during a very critical period for the U.S. military," said Dave Turek, vice president of IBM's Deep Computing division.

With more than $900 million in prime federal IT revenues, IBM ranked No. 11 on Washington Technology's 2004 Top 100 list.

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