Friday Apr 11, 2008

The Linux Foundation Summit: Of Maddogs and Englishmen (and Sharks)

Earlier this week I attended the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit, serendipitously held here Austin.  It was a fantastic opportunity to meet a lot of the people in the community whom I hadn't met before as well as to catch up with old friends.

Maddog (R) helping Executive Director Jim "Led" Zemlin to Flourish 

Great Speakers
(and I'm not talking Bose, which really aren't great speakers anyway)

There was an impressive line up of panels and speakers the first day of the summit ranging from Al Gillen of IDC to the Kernel Hackers panel to Brian Stevens, CTO of Red Hat (here's a good write up of the panel and Al's presentation).  My personal favorite, and I may be biased, was Marten Mickos' presentation.  I thought he came across as sincere and relaxed, yet authoritative.  Marten re-affirmed MySQL's commitment to GNU/Linux and talked about the "New Sun" characterized by, among other things, a "bold and humble new management."

One thing that struck me, particularly during the Q&A session of the kernel panel, was the preponderance of Englishmen.  It seemed for a while there,  one question after another was being asked by someone sounding like Hugh Grant (or at least closer to M. Grant than Ricky Gervais). 

A Super Location 

The event was held at UT's Super Computing Center about 10 minutes from my office and the exact same place where, six weeks ago I attended the dedication of Ranger: the Sun Constellation Linux Cluster.  In fact during the Summit they had tours of Ranger, aka"the world's most powerful supercomputer for open science research." 

If you want to get a feel of what its like to walk-through this uber computer check out this video that  Whurley shot during the tour.

Qua bottle lounge, where Tuesday's fete was held: Below the plexiglass dance floor swam sharks and manta rays.

Open Source, Open Bar

Of  course the biggest value in a summit like this comes in the after hours get togethers where you really get to meet people.  The Summit was no exception.  While the breakfast spread at the conference was put to shame by the breakfast spread that the Free Software Foundation (the Free Software Foundation!) offered at its member meeting, the food and drink Tuesday night was first class. 

I can't remember the last time I've been to a truly open bar.  I reflexively asked for a beer at the bar assuming that beverages would be limited to beer and two colors of wine.  I was quite surprised then a little while later when the hostess asked the person next to me what they wanted to drink he asked for a vodka tonic.  From there on it was margaritas for me!

James Bottomley (kernel SCSI god) picks the second winner in the raffle. I was the first winner and will be getting the new HP mini note running SUSE, Yippee!

Old Apple buddies, Mark Murphy (now of Canonical and who has the pleasure of dealing with me on a regular basis) and Zaheda Bhorat (of Google and tireless ODF champion) 

Pau for now.... 

Monday Feb 25, 2008

Humungazoid Sun Cluster Unveiled

Friday afternoon I got in my car and headed over to the UT's Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) for the dedication of the Ranger Supercomputer  aka the Sun Constellation System.

I was expecting a relatively low-key event but was surprised by what a big deal it turned out to be.  Jonathan Schwartz was there as was Hector Ruiz, CEO of AMD, and the food was amazing.

L-R: William Powers - President of UT; Congressman Michael McCaul; Jay Bosisseau - director of TACC, Hector Ruiz, Jonathan Schwartz, Dan Atkins - NFS,  Juan Sanchez - VP of research at UT.

It's all about communities, its all about sharing

Ranger is being billed as the world's most powerful supercomputer for open science research.  90% of its power will go to the National Science Foundation's TeraGrid while TACC will only take 10% for itself.  In fact, it was a five-year $59 million dollar award from the NSF to TACC that made this possible.

Andy Bechtolsheim (right) next to the model of the Ranger.

Ranger and the Oscars 

Speaking of the 10% that TACC will take for itself and the great state of Texas, while I was watching the Oscar pre-show on Sunday there was an actual commercial for Ranger.  It was done by a local news station here in Austin who will "soon be bringing you meteorological reports backed by the power of Ranger".  They talked about how powerful it was and showed a walk through with cool special effects.   You could even see the Sun logo (if you were looking)

Folks taking a closer look.

The Stats

Ranger:  Sun Constellation Linux Cluster

  • 504 teraflops (504 trillion operations per second) peak performance, provided by 15,744 AMD Quad-core Processors (62,976 cores)
  • 123 terabytes total memory, with 32 gigabytes for each of 3936 compute nodes
  • 1.7 petabytes total disk in a Luster parallel file system, plus 10 petabyte capacity Sun STK data archival sysems
  • 13.5 terabytes/second interconnect backplane bandwidth, provide by 2 Sun Data Center Switches, each with up to 3, 456 InfiniBand 4x ports
The question I have is how long would it take Ranger to arrive at 42

Thar she blows! 

One of the two gianormous switches at the center of the cluster -- Texas style. 


One of the six rows of machines.  The interspersed black cabinets are fans to keep it cool. 

Pau for now...


I look after Sun's relationships with the various GNU/Linux communities as well as our relationship with the FSF. Last year, my family and I emigrated from Silicon Valley to Austin, TX.


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