IBM supercomputer to help in Mars trip

IBM Corp. will provide the University of Texas at Austin (UT) with powerful supercomputing systems for research into areas including planned flights to Mars and next-generation Internet ‘Grid’ computing, the company said on Friday.

The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) will house a system comprising an IBM eServer Cluster 1600 Unix system, built using four eServer p690 systems, and two eServer 1300 Linux systems. One of the Linux systems will be an Intel Corp. IA-64 cluster with 40 Itanium 800 MHz processors, and the other an Intel IA-32 based on 64 Pentium III 1 GHz processors. Working together, the system triples the aggregate computing power of the separate products, IBM said in a statement.

The Unix systems will be used by the University’s Center for Space Research (CSR) to prepare for an eventual manned landing on Mars, IBM said. It will improve the precision of interplanetary navigation, terminal descent and landing, and will allow better modeling of the Martian environment.

The Linux clusters will be used in simulating Grid computing and in developing and testing Grid applications. They will also be used by the Texas Institute for Computational and Applied Mathematics (TICAM) to develop more accurate models of underground oil reservoirs.

Grid computing involves the use of spare capacity from thousands of computers linked to the Internet to deal with a single, complex problem. Pieces of a program are farmed out to many computers and processed in parallel.

All of the systems will be available to UT researchers from January 2002.

IBM, in Armonk, N.Y., can be reached at

. The University of Texas at Austin can be reached at