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IBM unveils Power5-based supercomputing server

Each skinny server houses eight processors. Plug a few together, and voila! A high-performance machine. Photo: IBM's unusual design

IBM on Tuesday announced a new Power5-based system, the p5-575 geared for high-performance technical computing customers.

The server, which has been on display at the SC2004 supercomputing conference in Pittsburgh, is a sequel to the p655, based on the Power4 chip, which IBM introduced in 2002.


As previously reported, the p5-575 is scheduled to ship in the first quarter of 2005, IBM said. A version that can be connected into clusters with Big Blue's High Performance Switch is due in the second quarter of 2005.

The new system is just one of several products IBM is using to try to oust Hewlett-Packard from its top spot in the market for high-performance technical computing systems. As part of that push, IBM began selling its eServer Blue Gene machine on Monday and offers clusters of Linux machines based on Intel's Xeon or Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron processor.

Each p5-575 server houses eight 1.9GHz single-core Power5 processors in a chassis 3.5 inches tall by 24 inches wide. The computer's power distribution system is embedded in circuitry instead of being connected with conventional wires.

The system will be able to run IBM's version of Unix, called AIX, as well as Linux operating systems from Red Hat and Novell. It will be available as part of the company's prebuilt Cluster 1600 product.

The p655 has been the foundation of several high-end machines, including supercomputers for General Motors, the U.S. Navy and the University of California, Irvine. The p5-575 is being used in a nuclear weapons simulation machine at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory called ASC Purple, part of the Energy Department's Advanced Simulation and Computing program.