IBM's RS/6000 SP, Linux To Be Wed In Vista Azul Hypercluster Project

By Joshua Piven

The ability of Linux to handle visual and scientific supercomputing tasks in a mixed OS environment will be put to the test in a new research effort at the University of New Mexico called Project Vista Azul (Vista Blue). The project is a joint effort of IBM’s RS/6000 group and UNM’s High Performance Computing, Education, and Research Center (HPCERC).

The project’s goal is to integrate RS/6000 SP supercomputing systems (running AIX) with Linux superclusters (A Linux supercluster is composed of off-the-shelf PCs or workstations running the Linux OS joined via high-speed interconnects.). Vista Azul will create a so-called “hypercluster” environment that will allow researchers (including UNM students) to explore the optimal use of Linux for scientific applications, as well as to examine management strategies for hybrid clusters.

“Our goal is to explore the boundaries of high-performance computing by connecting cutting-edge IBM deep computing technology with Linux clusters,” said Rod Adkins, general manager of IBM RS/6000 unit. “We expect the hypercluster will enable researchers at UNM to pursue the solution of difficult problems in scientific and visual computing while also creating insight into interesting issues of interoperability between Linux and AIX clusters.”

The hypercluster hardware and software will include an AIX-based, SMP RS/6000 SP system and a Linux-based, SMP Netfinity cluster, as well as an advanced networking infrastructure, parallel data storage, and a prototype Scalable Graphics Engine from IBM Research for use in visualization research. IBM officials say that building Vista Azul will require the development of advanced networking technology, new programming techniques for hybrid computational systems, and integrated concurrent visualization software.

“We believe heterogeneous supercomputer clusters constitute an important trend in high-end technical computing,” said Frank Gilfeather, director of the HPCERC at UNM. “The joint IBM and UNM effort is a critical step to this future.”

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David A. Bader
David A. Bader
Distinguished Professor and Director of the Institute for Data Science

David A. Bader is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Computer Science at New Jersey Institute of Technology.