Archive for March, 2009

3rd Iraq Aviation and Defense Summit

March 24, 2009

Yesterday I received an email invitation to participate in the 3rd Iraq Aviation and Defense Summit in Virginia next week. I wonder how I possibly could have ended up on a mailing list for this event, which features some very high-level Iraqi military and government speakers and offers the chance for one-on-one meetings with them. Even this doesn’t seem like a feasible explanation.

I didn’t attend the 1st or 2nd Iraq Aviation and Defense Summit so I assume I will not be missed at this event.

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Amazon EC2: More Reserved Than Ever

March 20, 2009

Back in September, I expressed skepticism that a purely on-demand model for cloud computing would be sufficient for businesses to seriously commit to the cloud model as a way to run their businesses. Apparently, Amazon is an avid reader of the Navel (joke!), because they recently announced a new resource model — Reserved Instances — that in large part addresses the issue I raised. Specifically, it is now possible to pay up-front to reserve an instance for use over some period of time. In addition, when the instance is actually used, the rate is lower than for purely on-demand instances.

This hybrid model will appeal to those customers who worry about resource availability as demand for cloud computing resources continues to grow and certainly to those who have developed a business- or mission-critical reliance on access to these remote resources.

Bread and Circuses from Washington

March 19, 2009

Last time I checked none of greed, stupidity, or towering egotism were illegal in the United States. And yet I suspect that is the extent of the guilt of many of the AIG bonus recipients who are currently the target of national ire and political postering.

Yes, it is annoying that these people have received bonuses under the current circumstances. And, yes, they should all be investigated and prosecuted if criminal wrongdoing is uncovered. But absent proof of that, what possible legal argument could be made for abrogating their employment contracts or, even more absurd, passing special legislation to seize their bonuses through taxation?

Don’t misunderstand me: Every single one of these fracking morons who did something illegal should go to jail. And for a long time. But let’s remember: crime first and then punishment.

What the outraged politicians in Washington would like you not to notice is that much of this wrongdoing on Wall Street occurred at least in part due to very poor regulation and enforcement on the part of our own government agencies.

Juvenal was right — and our leaders are savvy enough to know it. So, on with the show!

Australian Supercomputing: Who’s Da BOM?

March 18, 2009

The Australian press has an article today about a new Sun supercomputer to be installed at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM.) The new 1.5 TFLOP machine, which will be ten times more powerful than their current system, is said to be the largest in the southern hemisphere. The article is here.

More Free HPC Developer Tools for Solaris and Linux

March 18, 2009

The Sun Studio team just released the latest version of our HPC developer tools with so many enhancements and additions it’s hard to know where to start this blog entry. I suppose with the basics: As usual, all of the software is free. And available for both Solaris and Linux, specifically Solaris, OpenSolaris, RHEL, SuSE, and Ubuntu. Frankly, Sun would like to be your preferred provider for high-performance Fortran, C, and C++ compilers and tools. Given the performance and capabilities we deliver for HPC with Sun Studio, that seems a pretty reasonable goal to me. We think the price has been set correctly to achieve that as well. 🙂

I have to admit to being confused by the naming convention for this release, but it goes something like this. The release is an EA (Early Access) version of Sun Studio 12 Update 1 — the first major update to Sun Studio 12 since it was released in the summer of 2007. Since Sun Studio’s latest and greatest bits are released every three months as part of the Express program, this release can also be called Sun Studio Express 3/09. Different names, same bits. Don’t worry about it — just focus on the fact that they make great compilers and tools. 🙂

Regardless of what they call it, the release can be downloaded here. Take it for a spin and let the developers know what you think on the forum or file a request for enhancement (RFE) or a bug report here.

For the full list of new features, go here. For my personal list of favorite new features, read on.

  • Full OpenMP 3.0 compiler and tools support. For those not familiar, OpenMP is the industry standard for directives-based threaded application parallelization. Or, the answer to the question, “So how do I use all the cores and threads in my spiffy new multicore processor?”
  • ScaLAPACK 1.8 is now included in the Sun Performance Library! It works with Sun’s MPI (Sun HPC ClusterTools), which is based on Open MPI 1.3. The Perflib team has also made significant performance enhancements to BLAS, LAPACK, and the FFT routines, including support for the latest Intel and AMD processors. Nice.
  • MPI performance analysis integrated into the Sun Performance Analyzer. Analyzer has been for years a kick-butt performance tool for single-process applications. It has now been extended to help MPI programmers deal with message-passing related performance problems.
  • Continued, aggressive attention paid to optimizing for the latest SPARC, Intel, and AMD processors. C, C++, and Fortran performance will all benefit from these changes.
  • A new standalone GUI debugger. Go ahead, graduate from printf() and try a real debugger. It won’t bite.

As I mentioned above, full details on these new features and many, many more are all documented on this wiki page. And, again, the bits are here.

Toothpaste I Can Live Without

March 2, 2009

It’s amazing what you might find on product labels these days. Take for example the tube of complimentary Aquafresh Extreme Clean toothpaste in my hotel room. It includes the following caution along with the directions for use: “If you accidentally swallow more than is used for brushing, seek professional assistance or contact a Poison Control Center right away.”