IBM announced Wednesday that it will become the first major UNIX vendor
to offer a commercial version of the Globus Toolkit Grid management
Platform Computing announced the first
commercial version of Globus in March.
The Globus announcement is one of several new features IBM said it will
include in its AIX operating system to “supercharge compute-intensive
The AIX toolbox for Grid applications is based on the Globus open source
protocols, the de facto standard for Grid computing. IBM said it is the
first major UNIX vendor to offer the Globus software in product form,
“providing customers with the confidence of using an IBM supported
The toolbox, which IBM is offering free of charge, is middleware that
allows users to share supercomputing power, data and applications “as
easily as information is shared over the Web,” IBM said.
The software also connects “large numbers of disparate servers into vast
mega-computers,” and allows application developers to create Grid-based
applications, IBM said. Grid builders using the toolbox on AIX may take
advantage of the operating system’s advanced scalability and
high-availability features, the company said.
Also new in the AIX toolbox are enhanced install and configuration
features, improved security tools, and the addition of IBM service and
support. Other new additions include a Message Passing Interface (MPI),
Advanced Reservation, and IBM LoadLeveler integration. IBM LoadLeveler
is a batch job scheduling facility that matches job requirements with
the best available resources, the company said.
IBM said systems running the AIX operating system power some of the
world’s most powerful computer Grids. In March, IBM and the US
Department of Energy’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing
Center announced that two IBM supercomputers running AIX will power a
Grid that will ultimately grow into a system capable of processing more
than ten trillion calculations per second and storing information
equivalent to 200 times the number of books in the Library of
New Features Geared Toward Speed
AIX 5L contains the industry’s most sophisticated Linux interoperability
functions, IBM said. The new features will improve the speed of
bandwidth-intensive workloads, such as Business Intelligence
applications that search massive corporate data warehouses, as well as
High Performance Computing applications, such as automobile safety test
simulations, the company said.
IBM said the new features include large data transfer, enabling bigger
chunks of information to be accessed more efficiently in the computer’s
memory. AIX offers support for the traditional 4 KB page size and for
the new 16 MB “large page” size. Large page usage increases performance
for systems running compute-intensive workloads, such as big commercial
databases, which use massive amounts of virtual memory.
The new features also include localization, giving processors running a
particular workload optimized access to system memory components and
further increasing performance.
AIX is also based on Project eLiza technology, which brings to it a new
dimension of manageability over high-performance applications, IBM said.
AIX allows the system to self-configure, with features such as Capacity
Upgrade on Demand and Processor De-allocation. Self-protecting
capabilities including First Failure Data Capture, which IBM said is not
available on Solaris, and Predictive Failure Analysis, to help prevent
and contain system outages. IBM said AIX is self-healing and manages
system redundancy technologies to eliminate unnecessary service calls,
and is self-optimizing with advanced functionality, including the
workload manager and Logical Partitioning (LPAR).
Sun Takes Issue With IBM Announcement
Sun Microsystems, which made its own UNIX announcement Wednesday, claimed that “there is nothing open about the Grids IBM will set up with AIX 5L. IBM’s solution bundles the open source Globus software with the proprietary AIX-only IBM LoadLeveler software, resulting in a Grid that doesn’t support heterogeneous systems – even IBM Linux systems can’t be integrated in a Grid using Globus and IBM LoadLeveler.”
IBM officials responded that the use of LoadLeveler with Globus software, “although of great benefit to IBM customers who have deployed this product, is optional and is not required to be able to use IBM’s productized version of Globus software.”
IBM said its offering “is based on Global Grid Forum specifications and the Globus Project’s Globus software. This open source software is available on multiple platforms from the Globus Project, including Solaris, Windows, Linux, IRIX and of course AIX.”