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Desktops

IBM beefs up technical computing machine

Company is boosting the processing power of its p5-575 server, a machine geared for high-performance technical computing tasks.

IBM will boost the processing power of its p5-575 server, a machine geared for high-performance technical computing tasks, the company plans to announce Monday.

Today, each p5-575 ships with eight Power5 chips, but each chip has only one of its two processing engines, called cores, activated. By the end of the year, though, Big Blue will ship the system with eight dual-core processors.

The dual-core models will run at a speed of 1.5GHz, somewhat slower than the 1.9GHz of the single-core models, but overall performance will increase up to 55 percent with the dual-core option, IBM said. Most mainstream Unix servers from IBM use the dual-core version.

The company announced the systems in conjunction with the International Supercomputer Conference 2005 in Mannheim, Germany.

IBM is in the midst of a concentrated effort to climb to the top of the technical computing market. In that market, everything from single powerful machines to vast clusters of hundreds of smaller machines is used to tackle work such as automotive crash simulation or pharmaceutical research. Rivals include No. 1 Hewlett-Packard as well as Cray, Silicon Graphics, Dell and Sun Microsystems.

The p5-575 is available in a standard cluster configuration, the Cluster 1600, with as many as 128 of the 3.5-inch-thick systems. Most rack-mounted computers are 19 inches wide, but the p5-575 uses a 24-inch rack.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has a system with 256 p5-575 machines, and the Max Planck Institute has an 86-server system, IBM said.

The systems run IBM's version of Unix, called AIX, as well as Linux from Red Hat and Novell's Suse Linux. Each system can accommodate as much as 256GB of memory.