Enterprise HPC News Weekly Wrap-up for May 11, 2007

In this week's summary the Java Parallel Processing Framework is revved, BusinessWeek talks up the future of big compute in big enterprise, competition makes odd bedfellows, hosted grid offerors work hard to lure skeptical users, and much more.

Here's a collection of highlights, selected totally subjectively, from this week's enterprise HPC news stream as reported at insideHPC.com.

  • The Java Parallel Processing Framework, a grid computing toolkit for Java, just upgraded to version More.
  • BusinessWeek article: Dave Turek from IBM argues Fortune500 companies are going to heart HPC. Article
  • Sun's Network.com hosted HPC software service goes international, available in over 20 countries.More

RapidMind revs Platform 2.0 development offering

Canadian company RapidMind (which recently closed a $10M venture round) announced this week that it's RapidMind Platform 2.0 product has entered general availability.

The RapidMind software solution enables developers to more quickly and easily build higher-performing applications that exploit the full capabilities of multi-core processors, including Cell Broadband Engine (Cell/B.E.) and graphics processor units (GPUs). RapidMind v2.0 offers the widest hardware and operating system support and broadest applicability in enterprise and high-performance computing (HPC).

With RapidMind, developers continue to use standard C++ and their existing compilers and tools, and rely on the RapidMind platform to “parallelize” across multiple cores.

The Register did a little digging on rev 2, and added this useful bit of info on configurations you can target development for:

Supported products include the Nvidia GeForce 6000, 7000, 8000 and Quadro cards, along with ATI's x1X00 cards. You can also play with IBM's QS20/30 Cell BE-based blade and the Cell chip in the Playstation when running Yellow Dog Linux. OSes covered include Windows 2000, XP and Vista along with RHEL 4, Fedora Core 4/5 and Yellow Dog Linux 5. The supported compilers are Microsoft Visual C++ 7 or 8 and GCC 4 with Linux.

Odd bedfellows

From SeekingAlpha we learn that Dell announced this week that it will buy SUSE Linux Enterprise Server certificates from Microsoft. Dell joins AIG, Deutsche Bank, Wal-Mart, and others. Though the Novell/Microsoft relationship is born out of claims by Microsoft that Novell stole intellectual property, the spin is quite different as we see from HSBC's announcement earlier this year

…Under the agreement, Microsoft will deliver to HSBC certificates for three-year priority support subscriptions to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server from Novell, as HSBC moves to standardize its Linux deployments on one distribution. By reducing the diversity of its Linux environment, HSBC will be able to reduce its total cost of ownership (TCO) for Linux, and improve interoperability with its existing Microsoft Windows infrastructure.

Now we hear that IBM is moving away from Novell to Red Hat in an announcement yesterday:

Red Hat Inc. and IBM formed a partnership to develop, sell and support Red Hat's Linux software for IBM's mainframe computers, people familiar with the arrangement said on Tuesday.

The agreement, which the companies plan to announce at a Red Hat users conference that begins on Wednesday, applies to Linux software for International Business Machine Corp.'s System z mainframe computer systems, the sources said.

…Red Hat already works closely with IBM to market its software on the computer maker's smaller systems. But until now Novell has enjoyed preferred status when it comes to selling software for IBM's mainframe computers, analysts said.

Hosted grid offerors working hard to lure skeptical users

Byte and Switch ran a piece last week on the recent efforts by Sun, Amazon, and Unisys to overhaul their hosted computation solutions to “lure skeptical users.” According to the article:

Users have already cited cost issues and service level uncertainty as big grid computing turn-offs, although vendors are now launching a fresh attempt to draw in hosted customers….”People understand the concept but there are still not enough pre-built applications or documented case studies to lower peoples' confusion thresholds,” says Michael Dortch, director at the Robert Frances Group.

The article is interesting for the descriptions it gives of the current state of customer response to utility computing. For example:

Sun says that around 1,000 U.S. users are already running applications on its back-end systems. Many are in the HPC or technology research fields: Takers include the Brookhaven National Lab, which is using the vendor to support its atomic research. Another is AMD, which is running chip design applications on the grid.

Sun has also changed its storage pricing model, in a move similar to Amazon's recent change:

Sun has also quietly shifted its pricing strategy for the storage component of its grid. The vendor had originally planned to offer storage on demand, priced at $1 per Gbyte per month, although this has been scrapped in favor of a less uniform pricing structure.

John West summarizes the HPC news headlines every day at insideHPC.com, and writes on leadership and career issues for technology professionals at InfoWorld. You can contact him at john@insidehpc.com.