Archive for June, 2006

A Smaller Footprint

June 30, 2006

I need to replace my aging Toyota RAV4 and am having the devil of a time finding something that meets my requirements and also reduces my pollution profile. I’m willing to pay more to pollute less and I’m looking for any vehicle suggestions.

This will be my commuting vehicle for the cold weather seasons at a minimum. My commute is about 80 miles round trip, virtually all highway miles at speeds above 25 miles per hour. The vehicle must have all-wheel drive for snow. I need to be able to rack two kayaks on top for those brief moments when I’m not commuting to work. And I need more storage space than a sedan-sized trunk. My default thinking is an SUV, but I’m very willing to entertain alternative suggestions that are greener.

A few additional notes. I mentioned the 25 miles per hour figure above because my understanding is that hybrids don’t run on electric power above that speed. Also, I live in Massachusetts and therefore have no access to E85. And I’m pretty lazy–so I’m not going to make my own biodiesel, for example.

The biggest change I can make to reduce my pollution profile is to take better advantage of Sun’s excellent flexible work policy and just drive to work less frequently. I will do that, but I’d still like to find a vehicle to reduce my pollution footprint if I can.

So—any suggestions?


Holy TeraFLOPs, Batman!

June 29, 2006

The latest edition of the TOP500 Supercomputer Sites list was just released in synchrony with the International Supercomputing Conference in Dresden. The 500 machines on the list represent an amazing three PetaFLOPs (3000 TeraFLOPS, 3M GigaFLOPs) of aggregate delivered performance.

Sun has a new entry on the list, of which we are quite proud. The Tokyo Intitute of Technology‘s TSUBAME system, with 10,480 AMD Opteron cores, placed 7th on the list with a delivered LINPACK performance of over 38 TFLOPs. Check out Marc Hamilton’s blog for some nice photos and more detailed information about TSUBAME.

Congratulations to our customer, Tokyo Tech, and to all the Sun personnel and partners who worked so hard to make this happen!

top500 graph

Sun Hosts Open MPI Quarterly Meeting

June 29, 2006

Sun hosted the Open MPI open source quarterly community meeting on our Burlington, MA campus on June 20-23 as part of our ongoing, active participation in this effort to develop a high-quality, scalable, cross-platform implementation of the MPI standard.

Sun’s entire MPI engineering team participated in the meeting, which drew representatives from eight member organizations. Sun’s current technical involvement is focused in the following areas:

Development of a plug-in to integrate the Open Run-Time Environment (OpenRTE) and Sun’s N1GE (N1 GridEngine) distributed resource manager to support the launching of Open MPI parallel jobs.

The development of a Byte Transfer Layer (BTL) component to enable Open MPI communication over Infiniband using uDAPL.

Work on establishing a unified test suite and development processes to create stable, production-quality releases.

The community announced the release of Open MPI 1.1 during the meeting. Open MPI 1.2 is targeted for release at Supercomputing ’06 in November. Sun’s next release of MPI will be based on Open MPI 1.2 and will support Solaris on both SPARC and x64 systems with full support available from Sun.

The next meeting will be held on September 21-26, immediately following the Euro PVM/MPI 06 conference in Stuttgart.

Open MPI is a joint development effort involving the following academic, government and commercial members:

Cisco Systems
Indiana University
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Mellanox Technologies
Sandia National Laboratory
Sun Microsystems
University of Houston
University of Stuttgart
University of Tennessee

My Lame State: Alternative Fuels

June 25, 2006

Massachusettts, that is. But good job California and Texas. Update: And good job Wyoming and the Dakotas.

The US Department of Energy‘s Alternative Fuels Data Center is a site chock-full of interesting information about alternative fuels, including detailed comparison info on a variety of fuels as well as links to vehicle descriptions, etc.

While perusing the site, I found a table that shows the number of alternative fueling stations by state and by type. With a little help from Emacs and OpenOffice, I created the following chart for your viewing pleasure. Click for a larger version.

KEY: LNG = Liquid Natural Gas, HY = Hydrogen, BD = BioDiesel, ELEC = Electric, LPG = Liquified Petroleum Gas (Propane), E85 = Ethanol/Gas (85/15), CNG = Compressed Natural Gas]

Update: A reader suggested that normalizing by population would be interesting and I’ve now done that. Click here to see that Wyoming and the Dakotas are doing quite well, while Massachusetts is still quite lame.

For all its progressive positioning, my state is pretty crappy when it comes to supporting alternative energy options. Aside from the absurd resistance to wind farms, the one that annoys me the most is the lack of any E85 fueling stations anywhere in the state, since E85 seems to be the easiest option for a consumer interested in lowering their dependency on oil and reducing their vehicular pollution footprint.

Vive le Champagne

June 25, 2006

As previously mentioned, IWOMP 2006 was held in Reims, France last week. It was hosted and organized by the University of Reims and they did a wonderful job. They chose Pommery Estates, a local (and very well-known) champagne producer, as the conference venue. There was much good food and champagne available throughout the conference which created a convivial atmosphere for technical discussion..and allowed for some fun, too.

I, for example, learned how to open a champagne bottle with a sword. A skill of doubtful modern utility, though perhaps handy at the next military wedding I attend. The trick, it seems, is in smoothly and firmly sliding the blade up along the bottle until the blade strikes the bottle’s glass lip just below the cork. Done correctly, this will launch the cork, still seated in a cleanly broken ring of glass, across the room in spectacular style. Don’t forget to remove the metal cage before attempting this. Here’s a shot of my handiwork, which I’m told was well executed. It was a magnum bottle of Champagne Pommery Brut Royale. Vive le champagne! 🙂

Museum of the Surrender

June 24, 2006

While in Reims last week, I made a quick visit to the Museum of the Surrender, located in the building that served as Eisenhower’s SHAEF headquarters.

The centerpiece of the museum is the preserved situation room from which the early campaign was orchestrated and in which the Germans formally signed the surrender documents that ended the war in Europe on May 7th, 1945. Here are some shots of the room. Hand-held, no flash, and some unavoidable reflections from the glass protecting the exhibit.

Note the last image. For those interested in unusual war-time projects., check out the details of Operation Pluto here.

[surrender museum #1]
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IWOMP 2006 — International Workshop on OpenMP

June 22, 2006

I attended the International Workshop on OpenMP (IWOMP 2006) in Reims last week.

OpenMP defines a standard set of compiler directives that can be inserted into C, C++, and Fortran codes to parallelize them. It is most often used to create multithreaded parallel applications to take advantage of the multiple CPUs in SMP systems. OpenMP directives are widely supported in the computer industry and are recognized by most of the major compiler suites available today.

OpenMP originated in the realm of High Performance Computing (HPC), as a way for technical applications to achieve the highest levels of performance on multiprocessor systems. With the arrival of multi-core and multi-threaded processors like Sun’s T1 processor, the reach of OpenMP will surely broaden as mainstream, commercial, non-technical application providers also endeavor to gain maximum benefit from these new hardware architectures.

OpenMP is developed under the auspices of an incorporated entity called the OpenMP Architecture Review Board. The members of the corporation include many of the major vendors in the computer industry (Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Intel, Sun, etc.) As a corporation, the OpenMP ARB has a Board of Directors as well and that’s my current involvement. I’m currently serving my second term on the Board, this time as Chairman.

We held our quarterly Board meeting in Reims at IWOMP2006 to meet members of the community–both members of the corporation as well as users of OpenMP (an overlapping set, to be sure.) While the Board focuses primarily on governance issues, we are also keenly interested in the continued and increasing success of the OpenMP standard. Having a chance to attend the conference, listen to the talks, and to host a Meet the Board session with much stimulating discussion was a real treat for us.

the speech accent archive

June 11, 2006

I stumbled across a wonderful site this weekend — the speech accent archive at George Mason University. If you are interested in language and accents, you’ll find this to be quite a treat.

The site contains over 500 audio samples from around the world of native and non-native English speakers reading the same paragraph of text. Each sample is accompanied by a brief description of the speaker’s age and linguistic background as well as a phonetic transcription of their utterances.

I recommend starting with the atlas interface from which you can quickly view the location of samples in any region of the world by clicking on a world map.

This can be very fun as a group activity. Play a sample and have others guess where in the world the speaker is from. Three of us spent an enjoyable hour or so touring the world on Friday night.