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IBM builds supercomputer for GM

By Todd R. Weiss
August 29, 2002 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - General Motors Corp. has massively upgraded its capabilities to design vehicles and do crash testing and component vibration analysis through the installation of 23 new pSeries 690 Unix-based servers from IBM.
Ten of the 32-processor servers have been installed in GM's Detroit headquarters and are configured as an IBM eSeries supercomputer. With processing power of 2.3 trillion floating-point operations per second, it is believed to be the most powerful supercomputer in use in the auto industry. The other 13 servers were installed in GM facilities in Russelsheim, Germany, and Trollhattan, Sweden, according to a statement from IBM.
The new servers will supplement GM's computing systems around the world and will dramatically increase the computing abilities available to the automaker, said Peter Ungaro, IBM's vice president of supercomputing.
"They're using it across their whole design process," from analyzing designs to learning from crash testing and metals stress tests, Ungaro said. The machines were installed and benchmarked during the past year and could lead to additional purchases, he said.
The price for the deal wasn't released. But a single 32-processor p690 lists for approximately $2.1 million, giving the contract a potential value of $48 million or more.
A GM spokesman declined to comment on the new equipment.
The 23 servers will quadruple GM's existing computing power, according to IBM, with a combined processing power of 4 trillion calculations per second.
Kirk Gutmann, a global product information officer at GM, said in a statement that the new servers will "allow us to try scenarios on the computer that would be impossible to perform using traditional prototypes." The machines, for example, will allow GM researchers to run sophisticated crash simulations to gather safety information and will allow analyses to ensure a vehicle's structural integrity and quality.
Each unit is equipped with 32 Power 4 1.3-GHz processors and 64GB of memory.

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