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HP Opens More Parallel, Virtual Linux Offerings

SAN FRANCISCO -- Taking advantage of the power of multiple CPUs is a common task in modern computing environments. Taking advantage of multiple graphics processors is not.

It's a situation that HP is aiming to rectify with the open sourcing of its Parallel Compositing Library today. The technology could have wide-ranging implications for compute-intensive visualization tasks with large datasets.

"The APIs and libraries that we've built allow us to use graphics cards in the nodes of a cluster, and we're able to use their possessing power and the additional memory that are on the cards to help do visualization calculations much faster," Jeffrey Wade, worldwide marketing manager of open source and Linux at HP, told internetnews.com.

The APIs and libraries are software that run on top of the operating system and are not direct kernel modifications.

Wade noted that the software was originally developed in HP's high-performance computing group (HPC). By making it open source the idea is to make is easier for ISVs that want to adopt the technology to incorporate the technology into their applications. HP is also hoping to make visualization mainstream, as well.

Wade explained that the Parallel Compositing Library will be useful for a number of different industries and use cases. Among them are environments with large datasets that need to be visualized, such as oil and gas with seismic data analysis, medical imaging, weather modeling and any kind of animation. Wade noted that HP had used this technology to help DreamWorks with the rendering of the Shrek movies.

Taking full advantage of processing power is also a theme that HP is expanding on with its Partner Virtualization Program.

The partner effort is all about letting independent software vendors run virtual machines and appliances on HP's hardware in a supported manner. Previously, HP only supported VMware and HP Integrity VM in the program but has now expanded the effort to Xen, though only when running on Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 and not on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, which also supports Xen.

"Xen on SLES 10 has been out for longer," Wade explained. "It's just more stable in their release."

HP is now also adding Linux servers to its utility computing on-demand effort. Until now the HP's pay per use effort supported HP-UX, OpenVMS and Windows. Wade noted that the reason why HP is adding Linux to the mix now is a question of demand.

"We're seeing more customers deploying in high-end data centers, and we've now got enough demand to add Linux to our platform," Wade said. It is that demand for Linux that HP sees as pushing the open source technology deeper into the enterprise, which is a topic that HP Executive Vice President Ann Livermore is expected to talk about in her keynote at LinuxWorld here this week.

"She'll talk about the role of open source in IT today and where we stand in the next generation date center," Wade said. "She'll be talking about scale up, scale out manageability, security, green IT and things like that."