IBM scalable, parallel UNIX computing made easier

Mission-critical computing capabilities enhanced

Somers, NY, June 19...IBM announced today that it has once again improved the reliability, availability, manageability and installability of its parallel processing, UNIX** high-performance computer. In addition, IBM announced a product supporting a new industry standard, Message Passing Interface, for scientific, parallel computing. These improvements reinforce the system's mission-critical computing attributes.

IBM also announced today it has renamed this system the IBM RS/6000* Scalable POWERparallel Systems* (RS/6000 SP, or simply SP*) to reflect one of IBM's principal advantages in the marketplace -- RISC scalability from laptops to high-performance computers. The "re-branding" of the SP system to add the IBM RISC System/6000* name will render explicit what SP customers have always known -- that the SP system is the high end of the IBM RS/6000 line of workstations and servers. Both RS/6000 and SP platforms are based on IBM's RISC microprocessor architecture and AIX* software, IBM's industrial-strength UNIX operating system.

"No other parallel computing vendor offers the extensive array of availability features and is as well positioned to address customers' critical application requirements than IBM with the SP product line," said Irving Wladawsky-Berger, general manager, IBM RISC System/6000 Division. "In addition, IBM is taking the high ground in the scientific computing arena, with its support of the new Message Passing Interface standard. Our aim in both the commercial and technical computing arenas is to make parallel computing easier and more attractive to use."

Today's announcements, which provide significant new functions implemented through the combination of newly developed technology and the latest version of AIX, include:

Four new versions of software products for the RS/6000 SP system continue IBM's leadership in support of parallel computing for scientific and technical customers:

Parallel processing on the IBM RS/6000 SP system links together from two to 512 IBM RS/6000 processors to perform numeric- intensive and data-intensive computations. The processors work on different parts of a problem at the same time, enabling the high- performance computer to support many users and analyze massive amounts of data at blazing speeds. The flexibility of the SP system allows customers to run both parallel and non-parallel applications at the same time.

New industry standard for scientific computing

The new Message Passing Interface (MPI) industry standard for scientific, parallel computing provides standard message passing programming interfaces aimed at extremely high-speed communication between interconnected processors. Users will benefit from this new standard, as high-performance applications built upon MPI will retain their portability and investment value well into the next century. In addition, developers can carry their MPI skills across platforms, eliminating the need for retraining.

IBM's implementation of MPI -- which comes as part of the IBM Parallel Environment for AIX, Version 2, software product -- has been tuned to the architecture of the RS/6000 SP system, which facilitates the exchange of information among SP processors at a speed that is enormously faster than current communication protocols, such as TCP/IP, enabling higher levels of parallelism. For example, using the MPI communication interface, data can be moved bi-directionally over the High Performance Switch at very high transfer rates -- over 47 megabytes per second (MB/sec.) with a latency of under 45 microseconds. This is much faster than the 17 MB/sec. and about 300 microseconds latency achievable using TCP/IP and is comparable to the transfer rate previously only possible using IBM's proprietary message passing library, MPL.

"MPI provides hardware vendors with a clearly defined standard to implement efficiently on a parallel platform," said Jack Dongarra, chairman of the MPI committee, professor at the University of Tennessee and researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. "MPI is a prerequisite for the development of a parallel software industry and it will enable more organizations to take advantage of the power of parallel computers. IBM is taking the lead by providing a complete and efficient implementation of this community-developed standard."

In addition to the MPI services, the visualization tool (VT), a component of Parallel Environment for monitoring message passing performance, has been enhanced to track MPI activity. VT allows users to analyze MPI-based applications by providing High Performance Switch statistics and trace information on application activity.

The planned availability date for IBM Parallel Environment for AIX, Version 2, including MPI support, is August 18, 1995.

Easier installation and integration

With today's announcements, the RS/6000 SP system is now easier to install and integrate into computing environments. IBM AIX 4.1 support on the SP system will allow improved installation, easier system management and increased file system size. Users can manage a single AIX environment across their workstations, servers and SP systems, thus improving productivity. IBM is working with application vendors to ensure their applications are supported on the SP system under AIX 4.1 as quickly as possible, as well as providing a path to enable existing SP customers to migrate to AIX 4.1 with minimal impact to their current operations.

IBM has already migrated many of its applications for the SP system to AIX 4.1, and is working on others. These products include: DATABASE2 (DB2)* Parallel Edition, LoadLeveler*, InterMix*, Parallel Optimization Subroutine Library (OSL), Parallel Engineering and Scientific Subroutine Library (ESSL), Parallel Environment and PVMe. Planned availability for AIX 4.1 on the SP system is August 18, 1995.

With the announcement of AIX 4.1, many leading software vendors have indicated their intention to migrate their applications to support AIX 4.1 on the RS/6000 SP system. These include parallel databases from Informix, Oracle Corporation and Red Brick; data management applications from Legato; application development and analysis tools from SAS Systems and Template Software; and a client/server transaction processing system from Information Management Company (IMC).

Perhaps the most exciting addition to the SP system is the system partitions function in the IBM Parallel System Support Programs (PSSP) for AIX, Version 2 Release 1, software. With system partitions, the SP system can be separated into different node groups that can operate independently from each other -- ensuring enhanced high availability.

Within a partition, all nodes operate the same operating system level, have their own system resources and are isolated from events occurring in other partitions. Essentially, each partition is an independent RS/6000 SP system, even though housed in the same cabinet frame and managed from a single point via the SP control workstation. Benefits of system partitions include:

The new system partitions function can be used to assist migration, as some or all nodes can run AIX 3.2.5 and AIX 3.2.5 applications while at the same time other nodes run AIX 4.1. To execute this partitioned environment, AIX 4.1 and PSSP Version 2.1 must be installed on the SP control workstation. To support partitions, new and previously installed SP customers can license both versions of the AIX operating systems and PSSP software on the same RS/6000 SP system.

Planned availability for PSSP for AIX with support for system partitions is August 18, 1995.

IBM announced today a new AIX system management tool that can be deployed on the RS/6000 SP system, Network Install Manager (NIM). NIM is used to migrate the SP control workstation and SP nodes to a new release of AIX while maintaining the existing configuration, avoiding a complete reinstallation. This facility brings operating system installation and maintenance close to that used for stand-alone, networked AIX workstations for better integration of the SP system into existing environments.

In addition, IBM also announced Print Services Facility (PSF) for AIX is being upgraded to support AIX 4.1 and RS/6000 SP systems. This enterprise print solution provides attachment of high-speed IBM printers normally associated with IBM mainframes to the SP system, as well as the capability for distributed printing through TCP/IP attached printers. PSF can execute on any SP node as a print server for other SP nodes or for mainframes running IBM's MVS* operating system.

High availability for commercial applications

In order to support critical production applications on the RS/6000 SP system, such as data warehousing, a number of new high- availability features have been added with this announcement. These deliver an increased level of system availability in the areas of fault tolerance and non-disruptive maintenance. Joining the AIX High Availability Cluster Multi-Processing/6000* (HACMP/6000) software announced in February, they include:

Other scientific computing enhancements

With this announcement, IBM offers four new versions of software products for the RS/6000 SP system for scientific and engineering customers. Each is a significant technology advance and allows accelerated development of new applications and each supports AIX 4.1. Through the collective strength of their features, scientific and engineering developers can achieve application investment protection while improving productivity.

The first, which was discussed above, is the IBM Parallel Environment for AIX, with support for the new MPI industry standard. The others include:

IBM's server families

The RS/6000 SP system belongs to IBM's family of four server platforms: PC Server, AS/400, RS/6000 and System/390. These servers are being transformed to work with each other and with the systems of other vendors through adherence to defacto and industry standards, as described in IBM's Open Blueprint. They also reflect a relentless drive to maximize the use of common technology, subsystems and software across IBM platforms. The teamwork is built in.

At the same time, the four server platforms retain and build on the individual strengths that have made each of them winners in the marketplace. Those strengths address the different "styles" of computing that our customers have told us they prefer, which can be summarized as: affordability (PC server), simplicity (AS/400), scalable UNIX performance (RS/6000) and large scale robustness (S/390).

As a result, IBM offers what no company in the industry can offer: a team of servers designed to meet every customer need, regardless of where customers are on the road to open client/server computing.

IBM RISC System/6000 Division

The IBM RISC System/6000 Division and POWER Parallel Division were recently combined under the leadership of general manager Irving Wladawsky-Berger, previously general manager of the POWER Parallel Division. The combined division retains the name IBM RISC System/6000 Division.

The RS/6000 platform, IBM's high-performance line of technical and commercial workstations and servers, offers customers the most extensive line of UNIX-based solutions available in the marketplace. From PowerPC-based workstations with industry-leading graphics capability and servers that can run businesses both small and large, to symmetric multi-processor and scalable, parallel computing systems for the most demanding of client/server or commercial on-line transaction processing applications, the RS/6000 offers unparalleled performance and price/performance to customers.

At the high end of the RS/6000 line is the RS/6000 SP system, a supercomputer-class server that offers high-performance parallel processing capability for solving extremely complex problems in science and industry. All of these systems run AIX, IBM's industry-leading UNIX operating system that offers binary compatibility for the more than 10,000 applications available on the RS/6000. The RS/6000 product line is marketed worldwide through the IBM sales force and IBM Business Partners.

IBM Credit Corporation offers an array of convenient and flexible financing options for customers acquiring IBM RS/6000 SP technology. These offerings lower the customer's cost of ownership and offer protection from technological obsolescence. For more information, contact a local IBM or IBM Credit representative.

*    Indicates trademark or registered trademark of International Business Machines Corporation. Other product names may be
     trademarks of their respective companies.
**   UNIX is a registered trademark in the United States and other countries, licensed exclusively through X/Open Company Limited.  IBM AIX Version 3.2.5 and IBM AIX 4.1 for the RS/6000 family of systems are branded X/Open UNIX 93.