IBM has upped the performance of its SP supercomputer, famed as the Deep Blue machine that beat chess grand master Gary Kasparov last year, by a factor of five.
The RS/6000 SP now runs on its fastest processor to date, at 332MHz. If this chip were included in the high end architecture underlying Deep Blue, its calculating power would increase from 200 million to one billion chess moves per second.
Mike Borman, general manager of the RS/6000 division, claimed the commercial implementations of this technology will offer the fastest supercomputing in the world and "allow customers to purchase the same leading edge technology that powered Deep Blue". IBM will target the boxes at scientific and research establishments and at some commercial applications such as ecommerce, business intelligence and computer aided design.
In line with its general push behind electronic business, IBM is keen to promote SP, as well as its smaller servers, as ecommerce engines. For this reason, it has released a special version of its AIX Unix operating system, optimised for the rapid transactions of ecommerce, for the SP.
It also plans to integrate its mainframe technology with the SP. Customers will be able to link an Enterprise Server S70, which supports 64-bit processing, to the 32-bit SP as an external database node. This would enable the S70 to act as the Web server or database engine, with the SP doing the number crunching and data analysis.
The new SP will ship in 2000 and is likely to be the world's fastest computer, despite competition from other machines shipping at around the same time from NEC, Cray Research and SRC Computing (see Newswire 22 April).
One IBM user, the US Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, believes it will be able to crack the one trillion calculations per second barrier later this year using SP technology.
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