I still remember using Sun Microsystems Inc. machines when I was a graduate student doing scientific computing work at University of California, at Stanford's CTR and at NASA Ames. One particular summer, in 1987, my objective was very clear: to compute conditional probabilities of rare events based on direct numerical simulations of chaotic physical systems. Even back then it was clear that the world of supercomputing and scientific computing machines was a
changing and difficult world to satisfy.
Scientific computing bars have been continuously
rising since engineers and scientists used the first digital computers in the 50s and 60s to perform calculations resting on all kinds of scientific problems.
Sun broke into this market in a big way when it first introduced its scientific computing desktops and graphics stations in the mid 1980s, and later, its bigger computing servers.
Now, Don Clark of The Wall Street Journal has reported Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Constellation announcement at the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) in Dresden, Germany.
[Sun Microsystems Inc.] says it now has technology to build the world's biggest scientific systems.
The Silicon Valley computer maker today is providing
new details about a massive machine called Constellation, which
includes an unusual high-capacity switching system for passing data
among thousands of chips that act as electronic brains in the system.
Sun developed the machine in collaboration with the Texas Advanced
Computing Center at the University of Texas, which is installing the
hardware in its facility in Austin.
Andreas Bechtolsheim, a Sun co-founder who is its chief architect,
attacked the problem with a massive switching system -- with the code
name Magnum -- that by itself can manage high-speed data traffic for
3,456 calculating engines in a supercomputer, Mr. [John] Fowler said. Other
approaches would take 300 smaller switching components, the company
says. Mr. Bechtolsheim even designed special cables so that just
one-sixth the number of wires is necessary to assemble a system.
When we talk about the Constellation, we are talking about hundreds of teraFLOPS.
Sun Microsystems High Performance Computing group is one of the sponsors of the ISC meeting.