IBM is building a Linux-based supercomputer which it claims will be number 24 on the list of the top 500 fastest machines.
The computer, codenamed Los Lobos, comprises a cluster of 256 rack-mounted, dual-processor IBM Netfinity servers and is capable of executing 375 billion floating-point operations per second.
The machine is being built at the University of New Mexico and is due to go live this summer. It costs just over $1.5m, which is significantly cheaper than traditional supercomputers. The National Computational Science Alliance will used the computer to conduct research into areas such as medicine, physics, chemistry and genetics.
Frank Gilfeather, director of supercomputing at the University of New Mexico, said: "The Linux superclusters are the new supercomputers of the 21st century. We see them as replacing the traditional Cray, IBM and Silicon Graphics supercomputers because of their cost benefit."
The machine's clustering software is based in part on open source Beowulf code and other open source projects, such as IBM-developed software, for installing, monitoring and managing clusters.
Dave Turek, IBM's vice president of Deep Computing, said Big Blue's Linux clusters would soon move beyond the scientific market and are already being installed in businesses by IBM's Global Services division.
The company plans to ship packaged Linux clusters before the end of the year, targeted at transaction processing, ebusiness markets and universities. It plans to build another six over the course of the year. These will also be aimed at the higher education market.
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