These pages reflect the project status in late 1998. More up-to-date
information may be found on our
There are several areas that we are targeting to improve the capability of Alpha NT clusters.
Message-passing performance is clearly an important issue. We are porting Illinois Fast Messages to the Alpha platform for NT and Linux. We are also working with MPI Software Technology testing their MPI/Pro for NT implementation on the Alpha platform. This is a commercial version of WinMPICH developed at Mississippi Statue University. Further details are on the networking page.
In order to be able to support NT clusters as centralised resources, remote access is an area that needs addressing. We are developing such software, as well as testing Microsoft's NT Services for UNIX pack, to allow secure command-line remote access. We are working to give users a level of service that they are used to having on proprietary supercomputer systems. This includes provision of batch scheduling and parallel development tools.
Jerry Yan, visiting us from NASA Ames, is porting his Advanced Instrumentation and Monitoring System (AIMS) to Windows NT. This will be the first parallel development tool available for the Windows NT platform.
Another area we are improving is that of remote graphical access. WinVNC is being tested on our Alpha cluster which allows full remote graphical access to Digital Visual FORTRAN and MS Visual C++ - and it's free, including source code. We are also testing Windows Terminal Server, that will be an integral part of Windows 2000.
We have tested Linux single node and MPI performance. Initial results show Digital Visual FORTRAN being 60% faster than the EGCS g77 compiler. We are collaborating with Daresbury Laboratory who have recently purchased a PII/Linux cluster with commercial Linux FORTRAN compilers. In particular, we are interested in commercial, globally optimising FORTRAN and C compilers for Alpha Linux
Our primary concern is over the performance, but we are also improving some of the other Windows NT niggles. We are developing environments which will allow users to migrate from wholly-UNIX systems to Windows NT smoothly, so they are able to take advantage of some of the latter's features where appropriate.