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IBM Wins Contract to Build Supercomputer, Support Center for South Korean Government

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IBM said last week that it beat out Compaq on a bid to build a supercomputer for life science research at the Korea Institute of Science Technology and Information (KISTI).

An IBM spokeswoman said the IBM Power4-based system was chosen over a machine based on Compaq’s Alpha chip, which Compaq has said will be phased out over the next several years as the company migrates toward the Intel Itanium.

Lionel Binns, worldwide life and materials science group manager for high-performance technical computing for Compaq, told BioInform that the lost contract had nothing to do with the Alpha phase-out.

“Deals in Korea are not won on that basis,” said Binns.

The $27 million contract awarded by the South Korean government will go toward building an IBM eServer supercomputer capable of 4.24 trillion calculations per second. IBM said the supercomputer would be twice as large as the most powerful supercomputer in Asia today and will be among the 10 largest in the world when it is fully installed in early 2003.

The system will be just over half the size of the Power3-based supercomputer IBM is building for NuTec Sciences, which will be capable of 7.5 teraflops.

The Power4 microprocessor was designed to power IBM’s next generation of eServer systems, scheduled to begin shipping next year.

The system’s computing power will be shared by over 200 research organizations and government agencies both within and outside Korea. The first phase of the installation will be completed by the end of the year, IBM said.

In addition to the supercomputer, KISTI and IBM have also signed a memorandum of understanding that IBM will partner with KISTI to build Korea’s Technical Support Center for High Performance Computing and Life Sciences. An estimated 15 IBM engineers will be assigned to the center to provide technical services and resources. IBM said the company is still working with KISTI to define the resource requirements of the center.

— BT

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