Sun, Stanford Research The Earth

Sun Microsystems today joined Silicon Valley neighbor Stanford
University in unveiling an advanced research center.

The Stanford Computational Earth and Environmental Science (CEES)
research facility is expected to allow deeper analysis, simulation and
prediction related to complex Earth processes.

Research at CEES could lead
to better earthquake detection, oil exploration and the effects of oceanic
and climate changes.

There are also implications for data centers and effective use of
computing resources.

Researchers at CEES plan to examine the detrimental
effects of using applications with inefficient computing systems and explore
business technology pain points related to data center consolidation and
grid computing.

“Sun doesn’t seek to gain intellectual property from
this, but we want to learn how to build unique systems and architectures,”
Joerg Schwarz, director of health care and life sciences at Sun, told

“Companies like Schlumberger and
Halliburton , which write software for the energy companies,
can learn from this so there are commercial implications.”

Schwarz said energy-related applications include helping to improve the
exploration rate within known oil deposits.

For Sun, the investment will be another way to showcase and develop its
utility or grid computing efforts. Sun’s
lets companies buy computer resources at the rate of a $1 per hour
per CPU so they don’t have to maintain those systems in-house.

“We think the grid makes sense for a lot of companies,” said Schwarz. “It
doesn’t substitute for the data center, but it’s an additional resource
when, for example, you want to run simulations for a few weeks.”

CEES will feature 64 Sun v20 servers with 128 AMD Opteron cores, a
Sunfire 6500 with 25 cores and 192GB of memory and four Sun v40 servers
with four dual-core Opterons and 32GB memory.

Sun’s Solaris will, not
surprisingly, be the OS of choice. Schwarz said the center will run a lot of
third-party Linux applications and Solaris is especially adept and handling
mixed environments.

Sun has been touting a focus on environmental concerns the past several
months. For example, Sun calls its multi-core UltraSparc T1 “the world’s first eco-responsible processor” because of its low-power, energy efficient design.

Sun also is a founding member of the GreenGrid, an industry consortium-driven Web site designed to showcase best
environmental practices in IT.

CEES isn’t Sun’s only Stanford connection.

Scott McNealy, Andreas Bechtolsheim and Vinod Khosla founded Sun, which originally stood for Stanford University Network, in 1982. All three attended the school where Bechtolsheim designed his first workstation. McNealy and Bechtolsheim will be on hand for the opening of CEES.

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