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New footprint for HPC cluster

IBM is expanding its eServer Cluster 1350 offering to include dual-core blade offerings from AMD.

In an effort to bring high-performance computing (HPC) to the blade server environment, IBM expanded its eServer Cluster 1350 offering to support new AMD Opteron LS20 for IBM's BladeCenter. IBM said this move makes the Cluster 1350 the only integrated cluster offering to incorporate dual-core technology in a blade-based compute node.

According to Charles King, principal analyst at Hayward, Calif.-based Pund-IT Research, HPC is becoming increasingly viable in the commercial computing space. Given blades' potential savings on data center real estate, this expansion offers the HPC community options they didn't have before.

"IBM has taken a very specialized approach to Opteron and reserved it for the HPC market. Moving it to BladeCenter allows IBM to pitch blades as an HPC platform," King said.

The expansion of dual-core into clusters has other benefits, including managing power requirements. Multi-core processors could operate at a lower frequency, using less power, thereby running cooler. According to Tim Dougherty, director of BladeCenter marketing at IBM, blades are a way to get the maximum computing power within a single power and heat envelop.

"We believe you will see slight improvements [in power consumption and performance] with dual-core. Beyond that, you'll see the industry move toward multi-core and multi-thread processors. You'll see more relief over time, but it's going to take a while," Dougherty said.

The dual-core Opteron processors for BladeCenter run at 68 watts per processor.

IBM plans to continue adding components to the Cluster 1350 so users can pick and choose what components they want. In addition to the Opteron, IBM also announced Cluster 1350 support for new dual-core IBM eServer 326, as well as switch and interconnect options, including the Voltaire InfiniBand Switch Router 9288.

With Cluster 1350, customers pick the components they want and IBM tests them in its labs and ships them pretested.

The new updates to the IBM eServer Cluster 1350 are planned to be available in mid-July. Pricing will vary depending upon specific configuration.

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