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September 22, 2008

HP and Georgia Tech working towards Exascale Computers

Georgia Tech computer scientists are laying the groundwork for exascale machines that will process more than a million trillion – or 10^18 – calculations per second.

Karsten Schwan recently received a 2008 HP Labs Innovation Research Award to work with HP Labs, HP’s central research arm, to help solve some of the key problems in developing exascale machines. The high-impact research award, one of only two granted for exascale research and 41 granted overall to professors around the world, encourages open collaboration with HP Labs. The award amount is renewable for a total of three years based on research progress and HP business requirements.

“We believe that machines will reach exascale size only by combining common chips – such as quad core processors – with special purpose chips – such as graphics accelerators,” said Schwan, who is also director of the Georgia Tech Center for Experimental Research in Computer Systems (CERCS).





EE Times indicates that Karsten Schwan and his team are extending the open source virtualization software, called Xen, for exascale computing.

The open-source Xen virtualization system adds a layer of software layer called a hypervisor (about 150,000 lines of code) between a server's hardware and its operating system. It provides an abstraction layer that permits each physical server to run any number of virtual servers. By decoupling the operating system and its applications from a server, the hypervisor can manage resources and tasks more freely, relocating running programs even during hardware failures.

"If we can achieve our goal of virtualizing exascale multi-core computers, then many large scale applications can be enhanced, such as weather simulations, with much finer resolutions," said Schwan.


FURTHER READING
Xen Virtualization at citrix

Xen.org

Xen at wikipedia

Hypervisors at wikipedia
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