IBM, Nvidia Partner On GPU-Powered Supercomputers

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IBM and Nvidia entered a partnership Monday to push the power of the supercomputer deeper into the heart of enterprise data centers. The partnership centers around Nvidia's latest Tesla K40 GPU, also announced Monday, which Nvidia says is 40 percent faster than its predecessor -- the K20X.

IBM says the GPU will be integrated into its Power System line of servers. IBM and other high-performance computer makers such as Cray, Supermicro and Hewlett-Packard are increasingly building systems with GPUs. Systems that blend traditional CPU with GPUs can more easily juggle large data-intensive workloads for certain kinds of computational tasks such as visualization and simulation.

The processors, according to Nvidia, give companies a "new class of technology that maximizes performance and efficiency for all types of scientific, engineering, big data analytics and other high-performance computing workloads."

[Related: Nvidia Debuts GPU-Based Surveillance Platform For Threat Detection]

Nvidia and IBM introduced the partnership at the Super Computing 2013 (SC13) conference being held this week in Denver.

"This puts IBM back into the high-performance computing game," commented one IBM partner who preferred not to be identified. He said that IBM had fallen behind competing high-performance computer makers that use Intel and AMD processors, which have both taken a lead in supercomputing architecture.

"Legacy data is doubling every year, making it increasingly difficult for companies to leverage data efficiently," said Chris O'Malley, CEO of VelociData, an IBM partner based in Chicago. Companies are losing control of data, and [they] need to be able to take advantage of data in real time."

Technology research analyst Joe Clabby, president of Clabby Analytics, said IBM is following a growing trend by supercomputer makers of integrating graphical chips along with field-programmable gate array (FPGA) chips with traditional RISC and X86 systems. "This is one of the biggest changes in the supercomputer market we've seen in a while," Clabby said. And one, he said, we'll be seeing a lot more of from IBM and other supercomputer makers.

As part of the partnership between Nvidia and IBM, the two companies agreed to share technology that will be used in IBM's Unix-based systems that use Big Blue's Power8 processors. IBM's Power8 Unix systems have been seeing steep competition from less expensive Linux competitors that use competing Intel and AMD chip architecture.


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