Google, IBM sponsor parallel computing courses at universities
IT companies are becoming more active in making sure that there will be enough engineers that will be able to handle emerging technologies such as parallel computing.
Following examples such as the one set by Nvidia, which supplied course materials and even speakers to several universities around the country to teach stream processing via its CUDA platform, Google and IBM today said that they will be providing “hardware, software and services to augment university curricula and expand research horizons.” The companies hope that their support will “lower the financial and logistical barriers for the academic community” to explore what both describe as “Internet-scale applications”.
According to a press release, the University of Washington was the first to join the initiative. Carnegie-Mellon University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Maryland also confirmed to participate.
"This project combines IBM's historic strengths in scientific, business and secure-transaction computing with Google's complementary expertise in Web computing and massively scaled clusters," said Samuel J. Palmisano, chairman, president and CEO of IBM. "We're aiming to train tomorrow's programmers to write software that can support a tidal wave of global Web growth and trillions of secure transactions every day."
Google is "excited to partner with IBM to provide resources which will better equip students and researchers to address today's developing computational challenges," said the company's CEO Eric Schmidt. The training, according to Schmidt, is an imperative to ensure that students are equipped to "harness the potential of modern computing systems" and provide a way for researchers to "innovate ways to address emerging problems." The project is no luxury, but a necessity, he continued, that will enable Google to "most effectively serve the long-term interests" of its users.
The program focuses on parallel computing techniques that take computational tasks and break them into hundreds or thousands of smaller pieces to run across many servers at the same time. The techniques allow Web applications such as search, social networking and mobile commerce to run quickly, the companies said in a press release.
IBM and Google have dedicated a cluster of several hundred computers, including PCs donated by Google and IBM BladeCenter and other servers, and the companies expect the cluster to grow to more than 1,600 processors.
The companies call these clusters "cloud" computing. A cloud is a collection of machines that can serve as a host for a variety of applications, including interactive Web 2.0 applications. Clouds support a broader set of applications than do traditional computing grids, because they allow various kinds of middleware to be hosted on virtual machines distributed across the cloud, Haikes said.