Sun Not Selected for HPCS Phase III: My Thoughts

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.

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4 Responses to “Sun Not Selected for HPCS Phase III: My Thoughts”

  1. mamacita Says:

    Good spin…. I am sure there was a lot creative work done as a result to Phase II but I think you’ll throw some of that away specially if it is not cost effective for your target market. You are always free anyway to to pick and choose from your new toolbox in applying the technologies that are competitive and cost effective. So my thoughts–it is not net positive for Sun, it is the same if not negative. I just wonder what DARPA saw in IBM and Cray that Sun did not have.

  2. Josh Simons Says:

    I wouldn’t characterize it as spin. Your comment about always being free to pick and choose is not correct. With a signed
    Phase III contract from DARPA, Sun would be obligated to
    deliver everything included in our proposal with specific
    milestones along the way. My point was that not having
    these obligations allows us more flexibility.

  3. andrew cooke Says:

    i’ve been trying to find info on how this will affect fortress. any comments?
    i saw steele’s presentation at oopsla and was very impressed. imho that’s work that is worth continuing. but, given this announcement, who will fund it and, perhaps more importantly, is anyone ever going to use it?

  4. Josh Simons Says:

    First Fortress source code release just announced! More
    detail
    here.

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