Sun Not Selected for HPCS Phase III: My Thoughts
By Josh Simons on Nov 22, 2006
DARPA announced yesterday [PDF] that IBM and Cray have been selected to proceed to Phase III of their High Productivitiy Computing Systems (HPCS) program. Sun will not receive funding for Phase III. While this is understandably a big disappointment to the many Sun people who have worked on Phase I and Phase II of the program, in my own view this is a net positive for Sun. And I don't think that's just sour grapes.
Sun did a lot of very creative, future-looking work as part of our Phase II work. We've learned a great deal about productivity for HPC, and have generated some very interesting and relevant technologies. I don't think we are going to throw all of that away simply because we didn't win funding for Phase III. Instead, we are now free to pick and choose from our new toolbox and incorporate the most appropriate technologies at our own pace into our future products. I believe that execution flexibility will yield a better result for Sun and for our HPC customers in the long term.
Does this lack of HPCS funding mean Sun is no longer committed to HPC? No. Does it mean Sun will not be playing in the high-end, at PetaFLOPs scale? No. In fact, systems of this size built from more commodity-oriented approaches will likely be deployed earlier than the HPCS program's milestones. And I expect Sun will play a leading role in this space.