News in Brief

IBM celebrates supercomputer win; speedy Windows Server 2003

IBM Delivers Another Supercomputer Cluster

IBM Corp. last week touted another customer win for its high performance computing (HPC) efforts—the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), which purchased a new IBM supercomputer to further research in areas such as energy production and environmental quality modeling.

TACC’s purchase of an ultra-dense cluster of pSeries systems marks the second time in two weeks that a research center has been swayed by the combination of pSeries hardware and supercomputer clusters.

Less than two weeks ago, IBM announced that the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center (ARSC) planned to use a new pSeries-powered supercomputer cluster to anchor its own research efforts.

TACC’s new supercomputer—which consists of 32 four-way p655 systems and a single 32-way p690 system—will be used by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) as part of an effort to develop more environmentally-friendly petroleum drilling techniques.

When combined with TACC’s existing pSeries-based cluster—which consists of 64 processors—the new supercomputer cluster comprises 224 processors running AIX 5L and supporting more than 500 GB of memory. That kind of processing hardware is good enough to make TACC’s supercomputer cluster the most powerful academic computing system in Texas.

One proposed project involves a multidisciplinary research effort to develop a Web-based grid-computing portal that makes it possible for surface and subsurface flow codes and geophysical simulation codes on the IBM supercomputer to interact dynamically with each other and with real-time data collected by sensors in the field.

New Era for Windows Server Scalability?by Scott Bekker(Courtesy of

For several years now, Microsoft has been promising that Windows Server 2003 would be the scale-up release. In recent weeks, Microsoft, NEC and Intel used pre-release versions of the software to blow past high-end Unix and Oracle configurations on the bellwether TPC-C benchmark. The scalability improvements come as many vendors prepare much, much larger SMP hardware for the Windows Server 2003 release.

NEC, Intel and Microsoft published a new benchmark on the TPC-C test for database transaction processing scalability in February.

The number two result overall on the TPC-C puts Microsoft's SQL Server and Windows Server 2003 above all Oracle database results. It is the first time that Microsoft has produced a non-clustered database system on the TPC-C that came anywhere near the top results of current Unix systems.

This test should put to rest any lingering questions about the scalability of Windows Datacenter Server.

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About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.