The new supercomputer is an example of IBM's effort to commercialise Deep Computing, which is the capacity to tie together unprecedented computer processing power and advanced software and algorithms to solve complex problems and derive meaning from vast mountains of data.
"The Internet revolution is creating unprecedented quantities of data. The SP excels at helping people turn that data into valuable information," said Rodney Adkins, general manager, RS/6000. "The lines between technical and commercial computing are blurring as both researchers and businesses routinely analyse vast amounts of data," he said.
IBM's next-generation RS/6000 SP supercomputer system contains the POWER3 microprocessor, the direct successor to the POWER2 Super Chip inside "Deep Blue," known for its chess victory over world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997.
IBM said the POWER3 microprocessor can perform up to two billion operations per second and is more than twice as powerful as IBM's preceding RS/6000 machine. The POWER3 chip is aimed at applications such as computer analysis and simulation programs used by aerospace, automobile and drug manufacturers, the company said.
The SP is a scaleable system made up of building blocks called nodes, which can function alone or work with hundreds of other nodes. The system allows researchers to throw massive amounts of data-processing capacity at single tasks, or divide the processing power to handle a range of less intensive work.
The next generation RS/6000 chip has a retail price of $56,160 for a two-way node, according to an IBM spokesman. As of this month, IBM has shipped more than 5,500 SP systems, with more than 55,000 nodes included, in the five-and-a-half years since the SP first was introduced.