Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A peek into peta projects

Cray Inc. and IBM Corp. will split nearly half a billion dollars as part of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency contract announced Tuesday afternoon (Nov. 21) to fund development of petaflop-class supercomputers before the end of 2010. Sun Microsystems was dropped from the High Productivity Computing Systems program (HPCS) that aims to foster work on computers that are more powerful and easier to program than any in current operation.
It's unclear what impact the loss may have for Sun which has struggled since 2000 to be profitable and competed aggressively for the contract. Specifically, I wonder what will happen to the novel capacitive coupling chip-to-chip interconnect called Proximity as well as a high-end parallel programming language called Fortress that Sun proposed to HPCS.

I am also hoping to get fresh details about IBM's proposal which it has kept hush-hush to date. A DARPA release just said it is based on a Power7 microprocessor, IBM's AIX operating system and General Parallel File System.

Cray has been the most candid of the three about the Cascade system it proposed to DARPA planners. Cascade is essentially a cluster-in-a-box that will deliver a mix of scalar, FPGA and hybrid vector/massively multi-threaded processor boards based on future versions of Cray's current separate product lines that will be integrated into in a single hybrid system. --rbm

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sun's patent on proximity connect appears endangered or completely thrown out; Tom Knight and David Salzman filed for the patents that lay out the entire idea back in 1994, got their patents in 1999, and were beginning to negotiate terms with Sun. i'm not sure how much the HPCS awards committee knew about this, but Sun shrugged it off, thinking they could pay off the original inventors and regain control. This does not appear to be the case.

Under the DARPA terms, if Sun chooses not to go ahead with a product that uses Proximity, DARPA has the right to the IP and can get someone else to build a product that uses it.