Friday, December 21, 2007 Open Source Community Shines

CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE), the online community for open-source cluster and grid software, grew to 481 members and recorded more than 900 downloads of the free open-source Cluster Express beta software in its first month of availability. was launched Nov. 12, 2007 to provide a single aggregation point for information and interaction by the community of users, developers and administrators interested in a complete grid and cluster software stack. The sites primary open-source project, Cluster Express, provides comprehensive cluster scheduling and management by integrating proven, best-of-breed, open-source components into a seamless package that is easy to install and use.

"Response to the initial launch and to our call for participation in the Cluster Express beta program has been gratifying, said Steve Tuecke, co-founder and chief technology officer at Univa UD, the site sponsor. Obviously we tapped into pent-up demand for a complete, integrated, open-source approach to cluster and grid computing.

Univa UD announced the initial beta program for Cluster Express last month as a way to let users positively impact and shape development of the software, expected to be generally available in early 2008. Today, the company announced availability of the second beta version of Cluster Express on

We expect the release of the new beta version to drive more participation in the community, as more and more people begin to install and use the technology. With the excellent input were getting from users, administrators and developers, there is no doubt we will be able to integrate exactly the components and features this market wants in subsequent releases, Tuecke said. is expanding to meet community requirements based on input from site visitors. Recently, the site added a Wiki that allows shared authoring of open-source grid and cluster content by the community. also plans to support code-sharing, allowing Cluster Express developers to contribute to the software and users to easily share enhancements and applications. This capability, along with access to the Cluster Express source repository and versioning control system, will be available to members in the first quarter of 2008. Other planned enhancements include an interactive map of cluster implementations worldwide, to visually display and provide metrics on the landscape of cluster users at a global level.

About is an online community for open source cluster and grid software users, administrators and developers. The mission of the site has evolved to one focused on providing a single location where open-source cluster and grid information can be aggregated so that people with a similar range of interests can easily exchange information, experiences, and ideas related to the complete open source cluster software stack. Established in 2001, operated as a public interest Internet research grid for over 6 years and has now broadened the reach of the site to encourage use of open source technologies for grid computing at large.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Real Life Death Star, A Blackhole Blasts A Galaxy

A powerful jet from a super massive black hole is blasting a nearby galaxy, according to new findings from NASA observatories. This never-before witnessed galactic violence may have a profound effect on planets in the jet's path and trigger a burst of star formation in its destructive wake

Known as 3C321, the system contains two galaxies in orbit around each other. Data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory show both galaxies contain super massive black holes at their centers, but the larger galaxy has a jet emanating from the vicinity of its black hole. The smaller galaxy apparently has swung into the path of this jet.

This "death star" galaxy was discovered through the combined efforts of both space and ground-based telescopes. NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, Hubble Space Telescope, and Spitzer Space Telescope were part of the effort. The Very Large Array telescope, Socorro, N.M., and the Multi-Element Radio Linked Interferometer Network (MERLIN) telescopes in the United Kingdom also were needed for the finding.

"We've seen many jets produced by black holes, but this is the first time we've seen one punch into another galaxy like we're seeing here," said Dan Evans, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and leader of the study. "This jet could be causing all sorts of problems for the smaller galaxy it is pummeling."

Jets from super massive black holes produce high amounts of radiation, especially high-energy X-rays and gamma-rays, which can be lethal in large quantities. The combined effects of this radiation and particles traveling at almost the speed of light could severely damage the atmospheres of planets lying in the path of the jet. For example, protective layers of ozone in the upper atmosphere of planets could be destroyed.

Jets produced by super massive black holes transport enormous amounts of energy far from black holes and enable them to affect matter on scales vastly larger than the size of the black hole. Learning more about jets is a key goal for astrophysical research.

"We see jets all over the Universe, but we're still struggling to understand some of their basic properties," said co-investigator Martin Hardcastle of the University of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom. "This system of 3C321 gives us a chance to learn how they're affected when they slam into something - like a galaxy - and what they do after that."

The effect of the jet on the companion galaxy is likely to be substantial, because the galaxies in 3C321 are extremely close at a distance of only about 20,000 light years apart. They lie approximately the same distance as Earth is from the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

A bright spot in the Very Large Array and MERLIN images shows where the jet has struck the side of the galaxy, dissipating some of the jet's energy. The collision disrupted and deflected the jet.

Another unique aspect of the discovery in 3C321 is how relatively short-lived this event is on a cosmic time scale. Features seen in the Very Large Array and Chandra images indicate that the jet began impacting the galaxy about one million years ago, a small fraction of the system's lifetime. This means such an alignment is quite rare in the nearby universe, making 3C321 an important opportunity to study such a phenomenon.

It is possible the event is not all bad news for the galaxy being struck by the jet. The massive influx of energy and radiation from the jet could induce the formation of large numbers of stars and planets after its initial wake of destruction is complete.

The results from Evans and his colleagues will appear in The Astrophysical Journal. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for the agency's Science Mission Directorate. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls science and flight operations from the Chandra X-ray Center in Cambridge, Mass.

Additional information and images are available at:
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Monday, December 17, 2007

Firewire (S3200) Reaches 3.2 Gigabit Transfer Rate

Good News for those firewire based grids. I have a small experimental cluster running on firewire that I started years ago and so old that it is only firewire 400! May be things will change soon

Dallas, Dec. 12, 2007 -- The 1394 Trade Association today announced a new specification to quadruple the speed of FireWire to reach 3.2 gigabits per second.

The new electrical specification, known as S3200, builds upon the IEEE 1394b standard, preserving all the advantages of FireWire while offering a major and unprecedented boost in performance. The new speed uses the cables and connectors already deployed for FireWire 800 products, making the transition forward easy and convenient for 1394 product vendors and their customers. Because the 1394 arbitration, data, and service protocols were not modified for S3200, silicon and software vendors can deploy the faster speed FireWire quickly and with confidence that it will deliver its full potential performance. The S3200 specification is expected to be ratified by early February.

FireWire 800 products deployed since 2003 have proven that IEEE 1394b delivers outstanding performance. Operating without polling, without idle times, and without continuous software management, FireWire 800 efficiently delivers more than 97 percent of its bit rate as payload -- not overhead. FireWire 800 hard drives today can easily move over 90 megabytes per second. S3200 preserves 100 percent of the 1394b design efficiency and will deliver extremely high payload speeds reaching nearly 400 megabytes per second. Other interface technologies struggle to deliver half their advertised bit rate to the user, even under optimal conditions.

No Compromises to 1394’s Features

The S3200 specification brings FireWire to this new performance level without compromising existing features. For example, FireWire provides much more electrical power than any other interface, freeing users from inconvenient AC power adapters. FireWire products built using S3200 will directly connect to every previously released FireWire product. Alternative cable options are available to carry FireWire over long distances - 100 meters or more - even at high speeds.

Also, FireWire’s peer-to-peer architecture allows products to operate with a computer - or without one. This superior combination of features is not found in any other technology, which explains why over one billion FireWire ports have been shipped to date, on products as diverse as computers, cameras, televisions, hard drives, and musical instruments. IEEE 1394 also is deployed in vital applications in state-of-the-art aircraft and polar orbiting satellites.

S3200 Strengthens 1394’s Position in Storage, Consumer Electronics

One of the strongest markets today for FireWire is storage for computers. The best hard drives with FireWire 800 can move data almost three times as fast as the best hard drives with USB 2.0. Also, FireWire provides much more electrical power than USB, so FireWire-equipped hard drives can operate without an AC adapter, and at high rotational speeds. USB hard drives can fail to work from USB power, or require a second USB cable for power, or use the lowest-performance drive mechanisms because so little power is available.

With S3200 this power advantage for FireWire is fully preserved. S3200 also makes FireWire so fast that users will see no advantage from eSATA. Both interfaces are much faster than any modern hard drive mechanism, but eSATA does not provide electrical power to operate a drive. On a computer, an eSATA port is far less flexible than a FireWire port, because many more devices can connect to FireWire. For these reasons, S3200 makes FireWire the superior choice for future external storage products.

S3200 will also enhance FireWire’s strong position in consumer electronics A/V devices such as camcorders and televisions. Today, 100 percent of HD set top boxes provided by cable companies have FireWire ports. So do 100 models of HDTV. FireWire is the only separable interface today that can record HD programs in their full digital quality while also meeting the content protection requirements of copyright holders. Many companies are pursuing whole-home HD network solutions using FireWire - notably the HANA Alliance.

Technology development is also nearing completion to permit FireWire to operate over cable television coaxial cables, without disrupting the existing program content. With S3200, FireWire becomes fast enough to move even uncompressed HD signals over long distances at much lower cost than solutions such as HDMI.

"The S3200 standard will sustain the position of IEEE 1394 as the absolute performance leader in multi-purpose I/O ports for consumer applications in computer and CE devices," said James Snider, executive director, 1394 Trade Association. "There is a very clear migration path from 800 Megabits/second to 3.2 Gigabits/second, with no need for modifications to the standard and no requirement for new cables or connectors."

The Silicon Working Group developed the S3200 specification within the 1394 Trade Association, with participation by industry leaders including Symwave, Texas Instruments, LSI Corporation, and Oxford Semiconductor. S3200 specifies the electrical operation of the 3.2 Gigabit mode first specified by IEEE 1394b-2002, without changing any connector, cable, protocol, or software requirements. Based on the working group's progress, the Trade Association has set a January 2008 date for the specification to enter a ratification process.

The 1394 Trade Association is a worldwide organization dedicated to the advancement and enhancement of the IEEE 1394 audio video standard. For more information, visit

Dick Davies
415 652 7515

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Microsoft challenges VMware with Early Release of Hyper-V

Microsoft announced that a beta version of its Virtualization software is ready sooner than expected, a release that had been scheduled for early next year. On Thursday, the software maker made available a beta version of its Hyper-V hypervisor technology.
Virtualization is a technology that allows software applications and operating systems to be separated from their hardware systems and then shared over servers and storage infrastructure. Businesses then use virtualization technology to better manage large pools of data over fewer hardware systems.
New technology also allows for closer interoperability between Windows and Linux than seen in the past, and also puts it to compete with technology offered by VMware, whose virtualization technology has been the foremost player so far.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Getting Coherence: Free Data Grid Webinar

If you work with Grids, then you know that it is not a simple matter. This year I completed two Grid Based projects. One was a Research Grid which was very large scale completely based on Linux and the other was a Data Grid, an Oracle running on Windows!.
The frist and the large was easier that at the latter stage we did not call it Grid Development or Grid Implementation. It was more like Rabbit Breading, easy and almost no effort.
Then there is this Oracle Data Grid running on Windows project. I would not say it is smooth but one thing I learned is that Gates and the group have put a lot of effort in to developing windows 2003 server. Still a way to go but acceptable. Oracle was one of my expertise so I had no issues there. But one big hardware vendor was a total disappointment. But we Goth through the project unscratched.
Now to the idea of this post. Oracle has prepared a webinar to introduce Oracle Coherence™ Data Grid. You will be able to learn;

  • How Oracle Coherence capabilities function, such as coherent in-memory caching, dynamic data partitioning, and parallel query and process execution, and how they are being mapped onto grid infrastructures.
  • How Data Grid capabilities function, how organizations are using them to solve complex computing problems and examples of how organizations are leveraging this on a global scale.
  • How easy it is to deploy Oracle Coherence, which is generally operational within hours.
  • How Oracle Coherence is fully configurable, providing total flexibility to change caching topology without code changes.
Topic: Getting Coherence: Free Data Grid Webinar
Date: Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Time: 11:00 a.m. EST
So if you are interested in Grid, Grid Technology, and or Oracle, Please follow this link and register. You for sure will learn a thing or two.
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Monday, December 10, 2007

Softlayer Continues to Better Itself

December 5, 2007, Dallas, TX – Today SoftLayer, the industry’s fastest-growing web hosting provider, said that its string of significant product and service releases over the past months highlight the company’s vision and its course for the future. Since September, SoftLayer has announced a number of noteworthy launches and milestones.

“All of our recent additions are part of our overall strategy to automate managed services that have traditionally been performed manually and, as a result, have been labor intense and costly,” said Lance Crosby, SoftLayer Chief Executive Officer. “We firmly believe the only way to scale managed services is to automate installation, management, and monitoring.”

Mr. Crosby said that SoftLayer’s portfolio of services will continue to expand rapidly, and that the company has many other major growth opportunities on the way. “We’re well on track to have 15,000 servers deployed by the end of the first quarter in 2008. And I’m pleased to say that we’re launching a site in Seattle, our first additional geographic location,” he said.

SoftLayer has formed a 5-year, $16-million deal to deploy as many as 10,000 servers at Internap’s Seattle data center. The new site will give SoftLayer customers geographic diversity and allow them to locate their servers for optimal speed and performance. Softlayer will provide global load balancing between locations via two independent 10-gigabit high-performance IP network circuits connecting the Seattle and Dallas data centers.

SoftLayer’s latest automated services extend the flexibility and control its customers have over their systems. RescueLayer, a server recovery solution, restores failed servers by rebooting the systems into a RAM-disk rescue kernel with the server’s regular network access. A new automated, hardware-driven load-balancing solution can distribute work across servers, improving scalability and provisioning. Additionally, StorageLayer, a comprehensive storage and backup service, integrates multiple storage technologies including iSCSI and EVault. StorageLayer will soon be expanded with scalable virtualization technologies, disaster recovery options, and several enterprise services that take advantage of SoftLayer’s new Seattle site.

SoftLayer’s recent additions also have included relationships with best-in-class technologies and leaders. Softlayer released PassMark® BurnInTest™ hardware testing at no-charge to customers. They also began providing Urchin by Google Analytics, an enterprise-class website analysis package. The company also announced it became a Microsoft Gold Partner with certification in Networking Infrastructure Solutions, Advanced Infrastructure Solutions, Hosting Solutions Specialization and Storage Solutions Specialization.

“We’re proud of how much we’ve brought to market and how quickly,” said Mr. Crosby. “We’ve built an enormous amount of momentum. And we’re picking up more speed every day.”