IBM goes open source on supercomputers

The company has integrated and open sourced a set of tools used on some of the world's top supercomputers

IBM has released its first certified open-source software for Linux-based supercomputers, marking the tenth anniversary of its involvement with Linux.

Released at LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in San Francisco on Tuesday, the IBM HPC Open Software Stack is intended to ease the deployment of supercomputing clusters — in particular hybrid clusters that combine different processor types.

Releasing the software as open source allows the development community to take part in adding and testing new features, which could be important in the rapidly changing supercomputer field, IBM said.

The software is available immediately from a software repository run by the University of Illinois's National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA).

The software will initially support Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2 and IBM Power6 processors. IBM is planning to add support for Power 575 supercomputing servers and IBM x86 platforms such as System x 3450 servers, BladeCenter servers and System x iDataPlex servers.

The stack includes several distinct software tools that have been tested and integrated by IBM. These include the Extreme Cluster Administration Toolkit (xCAT), originally developed for large clusters based on Intel's commodity x86 architecture but now modified for clusters based on IBM's own Power architecture.

xCAT is used in the National Nuclear Security Administration's Roadrunner Project at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico — a hybrid cluster currently ranked by the official Top 500 list as the world's most powerful supercomputer.

Other components include Advance Toolchain for Power Systems 1.1, install scripts, a resource-management tool and a cluster-administration toolkit.

IBM 10 years ago released a compiler for Linux, its first piece of Linux software, and since then has developed into one of Linux's most significant commercial backers. This week the company also announced an alliance with three top Linux distributors to promote Microsoft-free PCs for large organisations.


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