General Motors has purchased the most powerful supercomputer ever to be used in the automotive industry from IBM. It promises to be more than twice as fast as its predecessor.

General Motors has purchased the most powerful supercomputer ever to be used in the automotive industry from IBM which promises to be more than twice as fast as its predecessor.

Based on IBM's POWER4 technology, it is called the IBM p655 and will reduce the company's development cycle by months.

"The automobile industry is increasingly reliant upon computers to develop and test vehicles. Our state-of-the-art computing platform allows us to shorten the time it takes to bring a vehicle to market from 48 to 18 months for some vehicles and significantly reduce structural costs in the process," said Jim Queen, the vice president of engineering at GM North America.

Design modifications and engineering issues that once took months or weeks to resolve can now be handled in minutes or hours.

"Thanks to high performance computing GM can move faster, introduce more new vehicles and keep pace with changing consumer preferences," Queen added.

Crash simulation has been the largest user of high performance computer resources at GM over the past ten years. And since the number of costly full-sized crash models used in simulations has been reduced with digital computer simulations doing much of the work, vehicle production costs have been cut.

Terry Kline, GM's global product development process information officer, said: "This increased computer capacity from IBM will enable better decisions about vehicle designs and material specifications, ultimately leading to higher quality and superior performing vehicles."

Comprising a network of up to 2 000 processors and 145 servers, the p655 can serve a range of functions and clients simultaneously for greater efficiency.