IBMs New Language, SPADE

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2009-05-13 Print this article Print


Moreover, Halim said to make the System S concept work, IBM had to come up with a new language. However, as a computer scientist experienced in using available tools, he said, "I was reluctant to embark on creating a new language, but stream processing is a significant development and warrants a new language."

That language is SPADE, which stands for Stream Processing Application Declarative Engine. "SPADE allows you to describe the topology of what you're working on," Halim said.

A description of SPADE on an IBM Research Web page reads, "SPADE ... is a programming language and a compilation infrastructure, specifically built for streaming systems. It is designed to facilitate the programming of large streaming applications, as well as their efficient and effective mapping to a wide variety of target architectures, including clusters, multicore architectures and special processors such as the Cell processor. The SPADE programming language allows stream processing applications to be written with the finest granularity of operators that is meaningful to the application, and the SPADE compiler appropriately fuses operators and generates a stream processing graph to be run on the Stream Processing Core of System S."

Halim said in addition to the SPADE language, developers can use the SPADE compiler and Eclipse-based IDE (integrated development environment) along with administration, configuration, and installation tools and adapters to build and deploy System S applications.

"Traditional computing models retrospectively analyze stored data and cannot continuously process massive amounts of incoming data streams that affect critical decision making. System S is designed to help clients become more 'real-world aware,' seeing and responding to changes across complex systems," IBM said in the release.

According to IBM's release, other early uses of System S include:

Uppsala University and the Swedish Institute of Space Physics are using System S to better understand "space weather," which can influence energy transmission over power lines, communications via radio and TV signals, airline and space travel, and satellites. By using the LOIS Space Center radio facility in Sweden to analyze radio emissions from space in three dimensions, scientists use this technology to compile endless amounts of data and extract predictions on activities in space. Since researchers need to measure signals from space over large time spans, the raw data generated by even one antenna quickly becomes too large to handle or store. System S analyzes the data immediately as it streams from sensors. Over the next year or so the project is expected to perform analytics on at least 6 gigabytes per second or 21,600 gigabytes per hour - the equivalent of all the Web pages on the Internet.

The Marine Institute of Ireland is using System S to better understand fragile marine ecosystems. As a core component of this collaboration, a real-time distributed stream analytical fabric for environmental monitoring and management is under development. Acting on large volumes of underwater acoustic data and processing it in real-time, the Institute extracts useful information such as species identification of marine life, population count and location. [...]

IBM and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) are using System S to help doctors detect subtle changes in the condition of critically ill premature babies. The software ingests a constant stream of biomedical data, such as heart rate and respiration, along with clinical information about the babies. Monitoring "preemies" as a patient group is especially important as certain life-threatening conditions such as infection may be detected up to 24 hours in advance by observing changes in physiological data streams. The type of information that will come out of the use of System S is not available today. Currently, physicians monitoring preemies rely on a paper-based process that involves manually looking at the readings from various monitors and getting feedback from the nurses providing care.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel