IBM Corp has, as reported briefly, unveiled an entry-level, twonode Power2-based PowerParallel System SP2 in four configurations (CI No 2,515). In a cut-down 49 frame the 3A2 and 3A3 are special-order-only systems with 66MHz thin and 66MHz wide nodes respectively. The 3A2 with 64Mb to 512Mb RAM, 1Gb to 9Gb disk and four input-output slots […]
IBM Corp has, as reported briefly, unveiled an entry-level, twonode Power2-based PowerParallel System SP2 in four configurations (CI No 2,515). In a cut-down 49 frame the 3A2 and 3A3 are special-order-only systems with 66MHz thin and 66MHz wide nodes respectively. The 3A2 with 64Mb to 512Mb RAM, 1Gb to 9Gb disk and four input-output slots starts at $145,000. The 3A3 wide node has up to 2Gb RAM, 18Gb disk and seven input-output slots. The 3B2 and 3B3 – again with 66MHz thin and wide nodes respectively – come in 79 cabinets. A two thin-node system with 128Mb RAM and 2Gb disk is $173,400. The 49 box can accommodate up to eight nodes, the 79 cabinet up to 16. There is also a 30Mbps switch for up to eight nodes that is being offered on the low cost entry systems. In addition users can now scale up to 512 nodes; IBM says its Cornell University installation should have the full complement by the end of the year. New disk drives double the data transfer rate and up to 18Gb can be attached to each node. The SP2 now supports tape libraries, CD-ROM, storage subsystems and optical devices at very high speeds. Software includes version 2 of the single-point SP2 administration tool with support for up to 128 nodes, due December; the parallel input-output file system for AIX to support files greater than 2Gb and other programming enhancements, out in January; High Availability Cluster Multi-Processing, HACMP 2.1, the 3.1 should be ready by March 1995; LoadLeveler 1.2; and client input-output sockets 2.0. IBM will have the latest AIX 4.1.1 up on SP2s in the second half of next year. The Power Parallel Systems division’s current challenge is to develop a new tier of software that will enable it to use the RS/6000 division’s four-way symmetric multiprocessing nodes to take it beyond 512 processors; it is apparently uninterested in the two-way system. The problem is that it must hide the symmetric multiprocessing technology’s shared memory topology because SP2 is an architecture that shares nothing. Oracle Parallel Server is already up and running on the SP2, DB2/6000 parallel edition is in beta test, Informix OnLine Dynamic Server and Sybase Navigation Server demonstrations are promised by the end of the year. The Power Parallel unit claims 240 systems installed worldwide with a total of 4,600 nodes, 175 of them SP2s. A simple node average is not really accurate: the unit has very large users, such as Cornell and the Maui supercomputer centre in Hawaii. Power Parallel resides in IBM’s Large Scale Computing Division, even though its component technology is RS/6000s, and has some 200 full-time sales staff.