International Business Machines Corp. has introduced a version of a high-powered number-crunching system designed for insurance company actuaries.

The IBM Grid and Grow for Actuarial Analysis system can cut computing time for a difficult problem to hours, from weeks, by assigning portions of a problem to many different computers linked to a network, according to IBM, Armonk, N.Y.

A grid, managed by the IBM BladeCenter system, can mimic the performance of a supercomputer, IBM says.

IBM first introduced the basic, general-purpose version of the system in August 2005.

A package that includes IBM hardware, software and services starts at $100,000 for the components that come from IBM.

Customers will have to pay extra for system components that come from other vendors, IBM says.