By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2003-12-22 Print this article Print

Masters said he believes there is renewed interest in U.S. leadership of high-performance computing, with its critical roles in research and industry as well as defense.

"Government interest was heightened when Japan brought on the Earth Simulator as the most powerful computer in the world," he said. "The view inside defense, intelligence and industry is that for national security, the U.S. must maintain computational superiority—its part of our historical advantage."

Part of that strength, Masters was quick to add, is in the vigor of open-source efforts. "The No. 1 contributor to open source on the planet is [the University of California,] Berkeley, and the No. 2 contributor is Sun," he said. "We have [made] a lot of our code open, and all the stuff with OpenOffice.org and all those sorts of things. Were going to bring that power to the Linux community."

Masters stressed Suns intention that Solaris will coexist with Linux in every way that meets its customers needs.

"Were doing Linux with Solaris extensions, and were [offering] Solaris with Linux extensions that make us as compatible as moving from Red Hat to SuSE—or even moving from one version of Red Hat to another," he said. "And applications today are at another level of abstraction, the application server or Java. More use of Linux on Opteron is just a growth opportunity for Sun, as opposed to eroding our strength."

The Rocks work begins with a Red Hat Inc. Red Hat Linux foundation, which Masters called a "customer choice" for loosely coupled parallel processing applications.

Rocks lets administrators define a collection of roles, said Rocks team member Greg Bruno. "We want to make clusters easy," Bruno added.

Bruno and his colleagues have their eye on the combined power of all registered Rocks sites, now nearing 40 teraflops—thats the throughput of the Earth Simulator, which the growing worldwide aggregate of Rocks clusters will soon exceed.

Technology Editor Peter Coffee can be reached at peter_coffee@ziffdavis.com.

Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developersÔÇÖ technical requirements on the companyÔÇÖs evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter companyÔÇÖs first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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