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Sun Micro, UT Austin, Team Up on Supercomputer

Fri Oct 1,12:10 AM ET From Technology - Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq:SUNW - news) and the University of Texas at Austin are set to flip the switch on Friday on a unique supercomputer that will vastly speed up massive data analysis and visualization to tackle time-critical problems such as weather prediction.

The network computer maker and the university said late on Thursday that the computer, named Maverick, is centered around Sun's most powerful server computer, the Sun fire E25K server.

Maverick, which will be used at UT Austin's Texas Advanced Computing Center, is the product of a year's worth of design and configuration and uses Sun's various server, storage, software and networking technologies, Santa Clara, California-based Sun said.

Academic installations of high-end supercomputers and mainframe computers are highly prized by systems companies such as Sun, International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM - news), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE:HPQ - news), NEC Corp. (6701.T) and others for bragging rights.

Earlier this week, IBM said it had developed the world's fastest computer, putting it back on top after NEC Corp.'s Earth Simulator Center claimed the title two years ago.

Supercomputers are often used to study weather, developing advanced weapons systems, improving industrial designs and simulating nuclear explosions, among other scientific uses.

Financial terms of the project weren't disclosed, but the cost of the Sun Fire E25K, about the size of a large refrigerator, starts at more than $1 million.

Dr. Jay Boisseau, director of the Texas Advanced computing Center, said that Maverick would allow UT Austin and national research communities to analyze vast amounts of data being crunched on terascale computing systems.

Maverick combines highly sophisticated visualization technology with a high-bandwidth next-generation network to model floods after large storms, global weather predictions, earthquake engineering and domestic security, including biohazard research, Sun said.

Maverick is powered by 64 of Sun's UltraSparc 4 microprocessors running Sun's version of the Unix (news - web sites) operating system, Solaris. The system includes 128 processor cores and 512 gigabytes of shared memory on 16 systems boards as well as boasting terabytes of storage.

About MGRID

The MGRID initiative is intended to create a collaborative research and development center for faculty, staff and students from participating units, with a central core of technical staff, led by a nationally recognized leader in grid computing. The goal of the MGRID initiative is to develop ... read more arrow

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