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Linux power quest

Monday, March 27, 2000

KRTBN Knight-Ridder Tribune Business News: The Boston Globe – Massachusetts
Copyright © 2000 KRTBN Knight Ridder Tribune Business News;
Source: World Reporter (TM)

LINUX POWER QUEST: Speaking of IBM, that company is throwing a bunch of its server computers to the wolves in an effort to hasten commercial applications of the Linux operating system.

In cooperation with the University of New Mexico, IBM is hitching together 256 of its Netfinity server computers into a giant Linux supercomputer called LosLobos, Spanish for “wolfpack.” They’re using Netfinity. Each of the Netfinity computers will contain a pair of Intel Corp. microprocessors, for a total of 512 processors. The result, say IBM researchers, will be a supercomputer cluster capable of performing up to 357 billion calculations per second.

NASA scientists first began building computing superclusters in 1994, in a project called Beowulf. Since then, universities around the world have constructed ever more powerful clusters, based on standard PC hardware and the Linux operating system. But few of these Beowulf-type systems are used for commercial applications. They’re used for ultra-sophisticated scientific research, such as analyzing the planet’s atmosphere.

But IBM says it hopes to use LosLobos to develop Linux-based business software that fully exploits the power of the system. That could mean a boost for IBM’s e-business efforts and for the company’s aggressive new move into Linux software.

“We’re about 2 to 3 percent into what the Internet is going to do for the world,” said John Patrick, IBM’s vice president of Internet technology. As merchants seek to add more and better services, they’ll need all the computing power they can muster. “Down the road,” said Patrick, “we believe that Linux clusters are going to be as important for e-business as they are for modeling the weather.”