The University of Otago has been named the first university outside the United States to become a Sun Microsystems OpenSPARC Centre of Excellence.
The University of Otago says in a press statement, the relationship recognises the university’s expertise in computer architecture, networking and parallel computing. It also allows Otago access to the OpenSPARC community (including six other universities in the US) and access for staff and students to equipment and technical expertise. The University of Otago is listed as number four in the MIS100 list of top IT using organisations in New Zealand for two years now.
Sun Microsystems has OpenSPARC Technology Centre of Excellence relationships with the University of California, Santa Cruz; University of Texas, Austin; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Carnegie Mellon University; Stanford University.
Information Science Head Professor Martin Purvis and Otago Computer Science researcher Dr Zhiyi Huang are part of the Otago team working on several projects of interest to Sun Microsystems – the most high-profile being the Virtual Aggregated Processor, or VAP. VAP is based on building virtualisation software to utilise the power of the new generation multi-core computer chips.
Dr Huang says his VAP work involves developing tools that will significantly reduce the burden on computer programmers of using the parallel programming techniques needed to harness the full potential of multi-core computers.
“Parallel programming has a long history but is very difficult. We are confident that VAP will be a New Zealand-led solution to help the computer industry manage the fundamental change of multi-core computers replacing the existing single core technology.”
Scott Houston, business development manager of the New Zealand Supercomputer Centre says the Otago research is of interest to the Centre, which also has a relationship with Sun Microsystems, because of the commercial opportunities it presents.
“We build on-demand engines, which involve taking large problems, breaking them into processes and solving these problems using large numbers of computers. However, some computational problems cannot be ‘broken down’ or parallelised, such as climate modeling and human physiology,” says Houston.
“In those cases, you have to see the whole problem and we need to aggregate a large numbers of computers to address the problem as one system, the work the Otago team are doing addresses this.”
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