Here's a collection of highlights, selected totally subjectively, from this week's HPC news stream as reported at insideHPC.com and HPCwire.
>>10 words and a link
Univa launches Globus Cluster Edition, one stop open source shopping;
Wall Street responds to green marketing by server vendors;
Fujitsu shows off 20-port 10GigE switch at Server Blade Summit;
TotalView revs memory debugger, allows debugging of MPI and remote applications;
Sun boots up Solaris on ROCK first silicon;
2007 NSF authorization passes House;
Sun's Network.com supercomputing utility offering service to international customers;
>>Really small advances in chip technology
Ah, the pun. Anyway, there were two interesting developments this week at the scale of the very small in chip technology.
IBM announced its incorporation of a self-assembling nanotechnology that creates natural patterns (like those in seashells and snowflakes) of trillions of tiny vacuum holes. The holes insulate the nano-scale wires crammed next to each other inside computer chips, and the company claims the electrical signals on the chips can move 35 percent faster or use 15 percent less energy than conventional techniques. More from IBM at http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/21473.wss.
HP announced this week it is licensing technology it developed to fabricate nanocircuits to Nanolithosolutions Inc., a Carlsbad-based start-up. The method, called nanoimprint lithography, stamps out patterns of wires less than 50 atoms wide on a substrate that is then filled with metals to make wires. More at http://biz.yahoo.com/bizj/070502/1456118.html?.v=1.
>>Amazon changes S3 pricing model
While Amazon's S3 storage cloud has been very popular, it's not yet profitable according to CEO Jeff Bezos. Nick Carr has a post
(http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2007/05/amazon_s3_aband.php) about Amazon's growing pains and its change from a flat-rate, all-customers-are-equal pricing model to a model that charges customers with lots of bandwidth usage more than those who simply upload their data and walk away.
As Nick points out, this change in pricing is something that many mature utilities do. For example, you pay different rates for electricity than your local 24×7 manufacturing plant does, based on demand and usage patterns. This allows the utility to charge more for those who demand the most from its infrastructure and to charge less the bulk of customers who are basically just along for the ride.
Why do you, the HPC reader, care? Because S3 is a very popular utility computing platform, and as the industry starts to mature and starts to work the kinks out of the pricing models for on-demand IT services, we may finally see viable supercomputing on demand take off.
Dan Fay's blog post about Microsoft's project “Astoria” was interesting and potentially relevant for both enterprise and scientific HPC: “The goal of Microsoft Codename Astoria is to enable applications to expose data as a data service that can be consumed by web clients within a corporate network and across the internet.”
In the HPTC community we've long done an incredible job of creating “write once/read never” data, and efforts to fix this have so far been limited to HPC “walled gardens” and haven't seen wide adoption.
Part of this is due to the packrat nature of science and engineering users. But part is no doubt also due to the flat, context-free way in which we store most of the petabytes of technical data we generate. After a few years it's just easier to regenerate that data than to dig through thousands of files long migrated to tape to find what's needed. Perhaps something like Astoria can be part of a new set of thinking about storage moving forward.
You can read Dan's post and find pointers to Astoria at http://blogs.msdn.com/dan_fay/archive/2007/05/01/data-service-microsoft-project-codename-astoria.aspx.
John West summarizes the headlines in HPC every day at insideHPC.com, and writes on leadership and career issues for technology professionals at InfoWorld and on his own blog at onlytraitofaleader.com. You can contact him at [email protected].