IBM Launches Water-Cooled Supercomputer


IBM plans to release two high-end Power Systems models, a water-cooled supercomputer and what the company said is the world's fastest UNIX server. The computers are based on its POWER6 processor, which operates at speeds of up to 5GHz.

According to IBM, the processor delivers two-to-three times the performance per core of comparable HP or Sun processors. In addition, IBM said that design improvements allow the POWER6 to run the same processing power with half the electricity as the previous product, the POWER5.

The POWER6 "Hydro-Cluster" supercomputer, Power 575, is a super dense system that uses an in-rack, water-cooling system with 448 processor cores per rack that provides almost five times the performance and more than three times the energy efficiency than its predecessor, the POWER5+ processor-based p575 supercomputer.

The other supercomputer, the Power 595, also targets Sun Solaris and HP UNIX users with the Power enterprise 64-core server. IBM said that it delivers twice the performance at a comparable price as the similarly configured HP Superdome Itanium system. The Power 595 is slated for wide release in early May.

"I think that the 595 and 575 are going to be awesome, and we've been anticipating them," said solution provider Joe Vaught, owner and president of PCPC Direct in Houston. "Our engineer is waiting to test this in our labs."

Big Blue is also going after HP and Sun in another big way, by rolling out its aggressive IBM Power Rewards migration program, what it said is similar to a "frequent flyer incentive."

The program will offer reward points to "competitively installed" customers based on the number of HP or Sun cores retired or traded-in when migrating to IBM Power Systems. Customers can redeem points toward no-charge migration services to move from HP-UX or Sun Solaris to AIX or Linux operating environments. IBM is offering 1,000 points per core for Sun UltraSPARC and SPARC-based systems, HP Alpha and Itanium technology-based systems, and SGI MIPS trade ins. For example, customers trading in a PA-RISC based HP Superdome system can earn as much as $512,000 in migration services at no additional charge.

"Since HP will no longer guarantee they will sell PA-RISC-based HP Superdome systems after the end of the year, IBM is giving those customers a highly attractive alternative to HP's multi-year plea to migrate to Itanium technology-based HP Superdome," the company said in a statement. "IBM is offering quadruple the Power Rewards points for PA-RISC-based system trade-ins -- or 4,000 per core, redeemable for up to $4,000 worth of no-charge IBM migration services -- to help those customers easily justify the migration to IBM."

Pete Elliot, director of marketing at Woodland Hills, Calif.-based Key Information Systems said he likes what he's hearing.

"IBM servers have always been fast, scalable and price-competitive, and they've been in front of the curve on the whole green discussion as well," he said. "I think that HP and Sun are not going to be able to touch this for a long time."