The goal is to double the total compute capability currently available to the universities to 10 trillion calculations per second, for use in such efforts as the modeling of coastal storm surges and genome sequencing.
IBM says the installations will also serve as a test bed for its Power-based servers and their ability to work with open-source Globus.org software in a heterogeneous grid environment used by a large number of organizations.
IBM has installed a System p575 server at Louisiana State University and Georgia State University. A third p575 system will be installed at Texas A&M University in the early fall. Each p575 is powered by 16 Power5+ microprocessors running at a 1.9 GHz clock speed, and is configured with 32 gigabytes of memory.
The three universities are part of the Southeastern Universities Research Association, which includes such other universities as the University of Arkansas, University of Florida, University of Kentucky, University of Maryland, and University of Southern California.
Established in 1980, SURA conducts cooperative research into a variety of areas. Its current focus is on research that improves the detection of hurricanes and mitigates their impact as part of the SURA Coastal Ocean Observing and Prediction program.
"This is about innovation in using IBM technology to enable the SURAgrid to grow to the point where it can do much more effectively and quickly things like hurricane mitigation and prediction of storm surges that can help us save lives and save property," says Ken King, IBM VP for grid computing.
For IBM, the effort with SURA is expected to help expand the use of its Power5+ servers. The majority of grids in enterprise installation today remain siloed to a department or specific application, King says. By demonstrating the ability of the p575 and the Globus software to operate smoothly across a grid serving 27 campuses, IBM can demonstrate how it can extend a grid architecture across multiple data centers and across an enterprise.
"We are hoping to see more and more Globus-based installations," he says. "The grid can be heterogeneous in nature, using technology from multiple IT vendors to drive the total compute capacity." All in all, King says, the SURAgrid is a "great case study of how our technology can make things fly."