Sun Entwines Itself in Supercomputing Infrastructures

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Nov 8, 2004


Sun joined the chorus of companies making announcement at this week's Supercomputing Conference in Pittsburgh, Penn.

Sun announced three expanded grid partnerships at this week's Supercomputing Conference in Pittsburgh, Penn.

Peter ffoulkes, Group Manager, High Performance & Technical Computing Marketing for Sun discussed with ServerWatch some recent developments in the Sun supercomputing road map. ffoulkes cited Sun's much hyped but still-to-be-flesched-out vision of "grid power by the hour" as evidence of its commitment to HPTC. He also highlighted the recently released V20z and V40z, Opteron-based 2-way and 4-way systems that Sun is positioning as ideal for supercomputing, alng with Solaris 10, which is scheduled to begin shipping in early 2005.

He said Sun is also broadening its grid exposure through partnerships, three of which it revealed at the show. ffoulkes emphasized, however, that Sun has partnerships "in all areas of HPTC."

Although partners since March 2003, Sun and Topspin Monday extended their relationship beyond high performance technical computing (HPTC) and database clusters to mainstream enterprise grids and utility data centers.Topspin, a key player in high performance grid and utility computing space, is best, known for its programmable server switch, which enables virtual servers to be created by interconnecting industry-standard server, storage, and networking resources on-demand.

Under terms of the agreement, Sun and Topspin will offer integrated utility computing solutions that combine Topspin's intelligent fabric products with Sun's AMD Opteron-based systems. The new solution couples Topspin's InfiniBand-based server switch platforms, host adapters, and Vframe software, with Sun Fire V20Z and V40Z server platforms to link servers together in high performance grids, virtualize network and storage connectivity, and provision applications on demand.

Sun also took the wraps off its partnership with Meiosys, a company that develops stateful application virtualization and relocation solutions designed for utility computing, high-performance computing, and fault tolerance environments.

Like Topspin, Meiosys' partnership with Sun is a standing one. In production since 2003, Meiosys' MetaCluster HPC is integrated with Sun N1 Grid Engine. Under the terms of the new agreement, the MetaCluster portfolio of solutions will be ported Sun's Solaris Operating System in early 2005.

The final partnership ffoulkes highlighted is with the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC). The science research laboratory designs, constructs, and operates state-of-the-art particle accelerators and related experimental facilities used by high-energy physics studies probing the fundamental forces and structure of matter.

It added 296 Sun Fire V20zs to its Tier 1 Compute Cluster. The servers will be used in advanced research projects funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, such as initial development of a Leadership-Class Computing Facility for Data-Intensive Science and the PEP-II/BaBar program making measurements at the frontiers of physics.

SLAC currently runs more than 1,000 SPARC architecture-based systems and more than 400 TB of disk from Sun, which are dedicated to SLAC physics and computer science research. The center plans to use a portion of the new AMD Opteron processor-based systems to validate the use of a Large Memory System to resolve disk latency and bottlenecks, ultimately delivering a revolutionary increase in scientific productivity.

SLAC has also agreed to test and deploy new Solaris 10features, to demonstrate how well the new TCP/IP architecture scales from the low end to the high end. The High Energy Physics (HEP) community is now running a new round of experiments to probe the fundamental nature of matter and space-time to determine the origins of the universe. Solaris 10 will provide the infrastructure the volumes of complex data created and the collaboration among scientists throughout the world.

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