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IBM opens supercomputer tools for ordinary rocket scientists

Power6 to the people

LinuxWorld IBM has marked the tenth anniversary of its commitment to Linux by going nuclear on high-performance computing.

A decade after the computing giant released its first compiler for Linux, a seemingly minor move back then that led to a major strategic endorsement down the line, IBM has released its first package of open-source tools under GPLv2 for supercomputer clusters on Power6 and Linux.

The IBM HPC Open Software Stack features IBM's Extreme Cluster Administration Toolkit (xCAT) that's been used to manage the world's largest supercomputer - the Los Alamos National Lab's National Nuclear Security Administration's Roadrunner project.

This system, costing $100m, is used to conduct sophisticated cause-and-effect studies on financial markets and complex 3-D medical rendering.

IBM's vice president of deep computing Dave Turek said in a statement the stack was based on the company's experience keeping large-scale systems "running like clockwork". He said there's a need for software to manage larger systems, as more computing tasks migrate to "supercomputer-style clusters".

xCAT has been enhanced from x86-based clusters to support Power6 and provides features to build and administer a cluster, along with certified IBM drivers for C/C++ and Fortran. IBM plans to support Power 575 and x86 System x3450 servers, BladeCenter servers and iDataPlex Servers in future versions. The stack is available here.

Separately, IBM said it's putting Novell's SuSE Enterprise Real Time Linux on selected BladeCenter servers. IBM did not say which servers, but did claim this extends the "business benefits" of Java to time-critical applications when used with WebSphere Real Time.

IBM also announced version 2.1 of its WebSphere Application Server Community Edition (WAS CE), which it claimed supports "business critical workloads for Linux".

IBM said WAS CE 2.1 - based on the Apache Geronimo project - lets you create a customized application server using only the components needed to run a particular application. There's also an improved administration console to automate deployment and deploy on groups of servers.

IBM is expected to use day two of LinuxWorld in San Francisco, California, to wax lyrical on the ten years since it committed to Linux. You can expect the company to present its support for Linux as a smooth decision and a "no-brainer" following strategic, internal discussions.

History, however, will record a slightly different view. ®

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