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UC San Diego: Denine Hagen
(619) 534-2920, dhagen@ucsd.edu

Hewlett-Packard: Cheryl Ritchie
(650) 857-7968, cheryl_ritchie@hpl.hp.com

UC San Diego and HP Drive Forward Research on Practical Deployment of PC Server Clusters

UC San Diego Receives $1 Million HP Laboratories Grant

SAN DIEGO, Calif., Feb. 10, 1999--Researchers in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UC San Diego will work to improve high performance systems created from PC server clusters under a $1 million grant from Hewlett-Packard Company’s HP Laboratories.

Increasingly, companies are using high performance systems for a broad range of services from Internet-service providers who host hundreds of customer web sites, to banks that process millions of financial transactions.

Information technology departments can build high-performance systems by joining PC servers in a cluster to act as a single, very powerful computer. The HP-sponsored UC San Diego research project aims to improve the performance of these server clusters by increasing their reliability and availability through simpler and less expensive configurations. In this context, availability means the time it takes to provide a computing service.

"Our goal is to develop technology to allow PC servers to perform the same sort of data-intensive computing that is most often run on UNIX-based systems," said Andrew Chien, SAIC professor of computer science and engineering at UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering and principal investigator of the study. "PC servers offer the higher volumes and lower cost of the PC industry and provide access to a wealth of standard software."

"Andrew Chien is a recognized leader in high-performance virtual machines," said Dick Lampman, director of the Information Technology Center at HP Laboratories in Palo Alto, Calif. "This grant to UC San Diego marks the beginning of a collaboration among Andrew and his team, the Multi-Computer Systems group at HP Laboratories, and HP’s Enterprise NetServer Division to explore technologies essential to mission-critical and enterprise-class servers."

Over the next three years, Chien will work on performance improvements to both design software and hardware architecture. He will address many of the systems issues related to quality of service. For example, the software that allows individual machines to communicate involves a large number of complicated steps. Chien will develop more efficient protocols that will allow rapid communication throughout the network. He will also work on new architectures that will allow large numbers of machines to be clustered together, thus increasing the computing power of Microsoft Windows NT server networks.

To support the work, HP has donated 32 Hewlett-Packard Netserver LPr systems with dual 450 Mhz Pentium II CPU’s. Chien will create a research configuration using the servers and starting with Microsoft’s DCOM (Distributed Component Object Model) architecture, an increasingly popular framework for executing software on distributed computers. This system decomposes complex applications into modular components and divides the work among networked computers. Chien will look for ways to enhance the architecture so that it is more flexible and efficient in the server system.

Andrew Chien is a pioneer of clustering commodity computers into high performance systems. He is best known for creating software called "Fast Messages," which led to a new cluster interconnect standard from Compaq, Intel and Microsoft called Virtual Interface Architecture. Chien’s work is also supported by Intel Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, Platform Computing, Tandem Computing, and numerous federal agencies.

About HP NetServer Systems

The HP NetServer L Series systems are designed as enterprise-application, workgroup or departmental servers and come with software that makes it easy to configure, install and manage the servers. The LPr system has the speed and capacity to serve more than one billion Web pages per day.

The HP NetServer systems offer high-performing Intel-based server solutions to meet the needs of small and midsize businesses, workgroups, departments and enterprise customers. Gartner Group’s recent Datapro user survey(1) ranked HP NetServer systems No. 1 in the PC server category for overall satisfaction, with HP NetServer systems receiving highest scores in the categories of performance, expandability/upgradability, reliability of the hardware, service and support, and total cost of ownership. Additional information on HP NetServer systems can be found at http://www.hp.com/netserver.

About HP

Hewlett-Packard Company is a leading global provider of computing, Internet and intranet solutions, services, communications products and measurement solutions, all of which are recognized for excellence in quality and support. HP has 124,600 employees and had revenue of $47.1 billion in its 1998 fiscal year.

Information about HP, its products and the company’s Year 2000 program can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.hp.com.

(1) 1998 User Ratings Survey of PC Servers, December 1998


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