Sun Microsystems teams up on supercomputer

Sun Microsystems and the University of Texas at Austin are set to flip the switch on a unique supercomputer that will vastly speed up massive data analysis and visualisation to tackle time-critical problems such as weather prediction.

The network computer maker and the university said late on Thursday that the computer, named Maverick, is centred around Sun’s most powerful server computer, the Sun Fire E25K server.Maverick, which will be used at UT Austin’s Texas Advanced Computing Centre, is the product of a year’s worth of design and configuration and uses Sun’s various server, storage, software and networking technologies, Santa Clara, California-based Sun said.

News source: Reuters Academic installations of high-end supercomputers and mainframe computers are highly prized by systems companies such as Sun, International Business Machines, Hewlett-Packard, NEC and others for bragging rights.

Earlier this week, IBM said it had developed the world’s fastest computer, putting it back on top after NEC’s Earth Simulator Centre claimed the title two years ago.

Supercomputers are often used to study weather, developing advanced weapons systems, improving industrial designs and simulating nuclear explosions, among other scientific uses.

Financial terms of the project weren’t disclosed, but the cost of the Sun Fire E25K, about the size of a large refrigerator, starts at more than $1 million (555,000 pounds).

Dr. Jay Boisseau, director of the Texas Advanced computing Centre, said that Maverick would allow UT Austin and national research communities to analyse vast amounts of data being crunched on terascale computing systems.

Maverick combines highly sophisticated visualisation technology with a high-bandwidth next-generation network to model floods after large storms, global weather predictions, earthquake engineering and domestic security, including biohazard research, Sun said.

Maverick is powered by 64 of Sun’s UltraSparc 4 microprocessors running Sun’s version of the Unix operating system, Solaris. The system includes 128 processor cores and 512 gigabytes of shared memory on 16 systems boards as well as boasting terabytes of storage.


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