Yahoo, CRL Look to The Clouds For Computing Power

Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) today announced a joint research venture with Computational Research Laboratories (CRL) to explore cloud computing through the use of one of the world’s fastest supercomputers.

CRL, a wholly owned subsidiary of India-based Tata Sons Limited, maintains EKA, a 14,400-processor supercomputer that ranked fourth on the most recent Top 500 listing of the world’s most powerful computers.

Under the partnership, CRL will make its computing resources available to Yahoo engineers working on the Apache Hadoop project, an open source distributed computing initiative under the auspices of the Apache Software Foundation.

Ron Brachman, vice president of Yahoo and its head of academic relations, said the joint venture builds on the company’s existing efforts to support academic research in cloud computing, such as sharing its own 4,000-processor supercomputer with engineers at Carnegie Mellon University.

“Launching our cloud computing platform internationally with CRL is another significant milestone in creating a global, collaborative research community working to advance the new sciences of the Internet,” Brachman said in a statement.

Yahoo is not alone in looking to the clouds as the next horizon in technology. By amassing large clusters of computing resources, companies such as Google, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) and enterprise players such as Hewlett-Packard are beginning to turn storage capacity and raw processing power into a distributable commodity that could reshape the way businesses draw on computing resources.

Yahoo said that EKA, housed in Pune, India, will be the largest supercomputer dedicated to cloud computing research. Of the world’s top 10 supercomputers, EKA is the only one that is privately funded and available for commercial applications.

CRL is now talking with Indian universities to discuss potential research projects in cloud computing that would allow students to tap into EKA’s considerable processing power.

EKA has 28 terabytes of memory, and a peak performance of 180 teraflops, or calculations per second. EKA recorded a sustained computing capacity of 120 teraflops for the LINPACK benchmark — the standard metric for gauging supercomputer performance.

The announcement comes the day before Yahoo kicks off the first Hadoop Summit in Santa Clara, Calif., co-sponsored by the Computing Community Consortium. Amazon is also a big supporter of the distributed computing project, with Hadoop software powering applications on its EC2/S3 Web Services platforms.

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