Friday, April 25, 2008

Use that heat!

Ian Foster has a terrific post up about a program happening at the University of Notre Dame -- they've put an HPC cluster in a greenhouse, where the heat it generates is actually welcome. They're saving money on heating in the greenhouse, and on cooling in the datacenter.

It's genius!

He then describes an idea from Paul Brenner from ND's Center for Research Computing:

Paul then described a fascinating idea: placing low-cost (but high-heat) "grid heating appliaces" (CPU+memory+network) in campus offices... By scheduling jobs only to cold rooms, a grid scheduler can do double duty as a source of both low-cost computing and free heating (or is it heating and free computing?).
I love that.

My question is: who's going to write the first thermostat to grid-scheduler interface module? It would be absolutely fantastic to see a scheduler that is dynamically allocating jobs based on temperatures in rooms.

Of course, it's a bit of a pipe dream. Clusters that generate lots of heat also tend to generate lots of noise, and you can't have that just anywhere.

Still, creative ideas like this can lead to practical innovations -- you can imagine a university eliminating a large datacenter in favor of "compute closet/heat rooms" throughout the campus. Or a large datacenter where the generated heat is used to heat water -- as the datacenter in Uitikon, is doing.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

MDavey in DDJ: PFX, PLINQ, and Digipede

Matt Davey of Lab49 must live in a world where the days are 30 hours long.

Read his blog and you'll soon find out that he's an expert at user interface (Lab 49 has been working with Microsoft for a while on cutting edge UI with Silverlight and WPF), but he's also delved quite deeply into complex event processing as well as distributed computing.

He also manages to write articles for Dr. Dobb's -- oh, and don't forget that he's a consultant, so you know he's working for clients as well.

I don't know where he finds the time.

But I'm glad he does. In his article in the current Dr. Dobb's, he discusses parallelism and concurrency, PLINQ and ParallelFX. He writes about his experience taking PLINQ and implementing it to run on a compute grid (using the Digipede Network). Check it out.

One thing he doesn't mention is that some people developing in .NET are solving their multicore problem using Digipede alone -- the API makes it dead simple to take single-threaded code and run it in parallel (on separate threads or in separate processes) on multicore and multi-processor machines.

As an aside: we are just about ready to release v2.1 of the software. It's been heads-down around here for quite a while as we get ready for this, which is by far our best release ever. Haven't had time to blog about it (or anything else, for that matter), but all should return to normal very soon.

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