Tuesday Dec 15, 2009

Petrobras Meets Oil Production Challenges with a Sun High Performance Computing Network



The BR Network is a high-performance computing initiative funded by Brazil's national oil company, Petróleo Brasilero, and is managed by an alliance of five federal universities to support the country's oil and gas industries. After the discovery of a vast new oil field off the coast of Brazil, the BR Network was selected to develop computer simulations to aid oil production at the new site, which is under approximately two miles of ocean floor riddled with geological faults.
Sun Customer BR Network
(Image courtesy: BR Network, a Petrobras initiative)
The Alberto Luiz Coimbra Institute-Graduate School and Research in Engineering from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro realized that the alliance of universities needed a high-performance computing grid to handle the complex new project that would be both an affordable and easily expandable solution over the next few years. Ultimately, the alliance selected Sun, which not only was the vendor that would best meet the performance, scalability, and energy efficiency goals, but also cost almost 30% less than the next closest offer from a competing vendor.

The new HPC solution includes 448 Sun Blade X6275 Server Modules with the new Intel Xeon processor series 5500, Sun Blade 6048 Modular Systems, and the Lustre File System. The solution also features the first blade server with on-board QDR InfiniBand for high performance and low latency. The alliance runs the Red Hat Linux OS on a Sun open-network solution, which supports multiple operating systems. The BR Network is currently running at three universities on a grid that provides approximately 100 teraflops of peak performance and 21.5 TB of memory.

The alliance expects that the BR Network will be fully operational by February 2010 with nearly 300 researchers working on the new clusters. Sun Professional Services is providing ongoing support for the project's air-conditioning and hi-visualization environments. The Sun solution more than doubles the universities' processing speed with ample room for growth. Alvaro Coutinho, a professor at the Center for Parallel Computing and Department of Civil Engineering, COPPE/UFRJ said: “We are very excited about the scalability of our Sun HPC system. We are currently at about 100 teraflops and we are thinking of doubling or even tripling it in the next two years.”

Check out the complete details here.

Matthew Hegarty, October winner of the JFXStudio Challenge, talks about JavaFX technology


Reviews Interactive recently spoke with the October winner of the JFXStudio Challenge, Matthew Hegarty, creator of the JavaFX Video Poker game, which was written with a total of just 2,994 characters. A long-time Java programmer, Matt started using JavaFX about two years ago, and has relied primarily on online resources to learn the language, following examples posted on various blogs. However, in a sentiment common to the developer world, Matt states that “the most effective way of learning is to actually use the language, which is partly why I've been taking part in the JFXStudio challenges.”

Matt's idea for the Video Poker game came after hearing Dick Wall of the Java Posse mention a poker game while discussing the challenge. Even though Matt thought “it's too obvious,” he forged ahead with development. The approach Matt took was to write the code normally, and to aim for no more than 4,500 characters, confident he could cut it from there. Once he developed a final cut, he had to remove whitespace, and cut down variable names. However, when he found he was still 100 characters over he said “I had to try to shave off extra characters where I could – this involved removing extraneous semi-colons, re-using strings where I could and even swapping declarations of MountEvent for FXBase because it had a shorter name!”

Matt admits there were a few sacrifices he had to make in creating the game – mainly cutting out animations for the cards – but said, “mostly by sticking to a simple idea I was able to keep the core of the game there.” Besides the Video Poker game, Matt has used JavaFX in other application development to include a previous entry into a JFXStudio challenge called Reaction Time task, while another is an educational application called PsyKit – a face recognition task – for students of psychology.
Matthew Hegarty
Matthew Hegarty

When discussing JavaFX Matt said: “Once you get used to the style of the language you can create applications very quickly,” stating that it makes it easy and quick to translate an idea into “something working on screen, and that really keeps programming fun.” Matt was able to get the basics of his Video Poker game going in only a couple of hours, which he said was the result of “the more you use it [JavaFX], the more efficient you become.”

Read the written Q&A with Matt here.

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