• July 2011
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New Language for Programming in Parallel.

 Technology Review (07/28/11) Duncan Graham-Rowe

 SofCheck’s Tucker Taft has developed the Parallel Specification and Implementation Language (ParaSail), a new programming language designed to maximize the potential of multicore computer processors by avoiding the problems associated with multicore chips, such as dividing tasks and sending them to each core in parallel.  ParaSail, which will work on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers, is similar to the C and C++ programming languages, except that it automatically splits a program into thousands of smaller tasks that can be spread across cores, which allows for the greatest number of tasks to be completed in parallel.  ParaSail also automatically debugs the programs, which makes the code safer.  “Everything is done in parallel by default, unless you tell it otherwise,” Taft says.  ParaSail has several other components that are based on older programming languages developed in the 1980s and 1990s for supercomputers.  “There are a lot of people chipping away at the problem, taking existing languages and trying to make them better at handling parallel processing,” Taft says.


Russia Steps up Game in Supercomputing.

Computerworld (07/25/11) Patrick Thibodeau

Russia president Dmitry Medvedev and T-Platforms, a Moscow-based computer maker, are working to develop the country’s reputation as a supercomputing leader. Medvedev’s desire for developing the country’s supercomputing expertise has resulted in Moscow State University’s T-Platforms’ supercomputer, called Lomonosov, which was ranked as the 13th most powerful system in the world in the most recent Top500 list. It also placed third on the Graph500, which measures how rapidly a system can execute a data-intensive graph operation. Without investing in high-performance computing (HPC), “Russian products in five years won’t be competitive in the world market, so the government is very much driving to increase HPC usage,” says IDC analyst Steve Conway. “At the moment it’s a new technology for most of the people, but we are trying to expand the market [in Russia],” says T-Platforms’ Anton Korzh. When it comes to writing software, “all of Eastern Europe has some advantage because all through the time they were under communism they had very poor hardware so they had to write software that would practically make a washing machine compute,” Conway says.


NSF’s New Shared Supercomputing Platform Goes to Extremes.

 Government Computer News (07/26/11) William Jackson

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) is funding the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), a distributed computing infrastructure that will connect researchers with supercomputers, data, and software tools. XSEDE, which consists of 17 academic and research institutions, will eventually replace the NSF TeraGrid program. “Our goal is to do this in a way that is non-disruptive to the community we have been supporting,” says University of Illinois researcher John Towns, who describes XSEDE as a managed evolution to support advanced scientific research with no static end date. A user-centric environment, XSEDE will support collaboration and high-performance computing. Projects that are currently supported by TeraGrid will continue to be supported by XSEDE. “From the user’s point of view, there is a change of name and some new things will appear,” Towns says. XSEDE also will let users build their own ad hoc environments for collaboration, enabling them to make resources available to partners even if those resources are not directly managed by XSEDE.


China Unveils Another Supercomputer–But Not Its Fastest.

 IDG News Service (07/11/11) Michael Kan

China recently launched its newest supercomputer, known as the Tianhe-1 system, using the same technology that it used to build the Tianhe-1A system. The new Tianhe-1 system has a theoretical peak speed of 1.1 petaflops, which is considerably slower than the Tianhe-1A’s theoretical peak speed of 4.7 petaflops and a sustained performance of 2.5 petaflops. However, the new system gives China 61 supercomputers in the Top500 list, up from 24 at this time last year. The United States currently has 255 supercomputers on the list. The Tianhe-1A had held the title of world’s fastest supercomputer until last month when the Japanese-built K computer took the top spot with a speed of 8.16 petaflops. The new Tianhe-1 system will be used to perform simulations that will forecast the weather, help with disaster prevention, and aid industrial fields such as automobile manufacturing and medical research. By October 2011, the system will have a theoretical peak speed of three petaflops, which could make it the fifth fastest supercomputer in the world, according to China’s National University of Defense Technology professor Lu Yutong.