Big Blue and a Dutch team of scientists are trying to come up with a breed of servers that process more data than today's internet while coping with a sandstorm.
The team have to have their new microservers installed by 2017 in the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) Project, the world's largest radio telescope, located in South Africa and Australia.
The spec is that it must be able to handle ten times the traffic and the sort of sand storms they get from the world's most rugged terrain.
According to Slashdot, South Africa's National Research Foundation, IBM, and ASTON are sitting in front of a video conferencing white board trying to brainstorm a new server design.
The SKA project hopes to use the telescope array to have a look "back in time," where the radio waves from some of the earliest moments of the universe can still be picked up.
They are using a telescope that is so powerful it pick up an airport radar on a planet 50 light years away, although that is assuming that anyone is using airport radar in the rest of the universe.
The SKA will be made up of 3,000 dish antennas, arranged in five spiral arms from the centre of the core region and it will be built in 2017 and conclude in 2024.
Each needs to be connected to the others with enough optical fibre to circle the globe twice. When completed, it will need to handle 260 petabytes of traffic per month or 103.7 gigabytes per second.
IBM thinks the only way to handle all that traffic is with stacked, liquid-cooled microprocessors. At the moment an underlying architecture hasn't been invented yet. It will have to be low-power and high throughput and probably be set up with the microservers as distributed nodes.