Altera Corporation (Nasdaq: ALTR) today announced the development of a new university program to support academic research into high-performance computing. AMD, Sun Microsystems and XtremeData are participating in the program that will donate $1 million in workstations and development software to universities. Using the workstations, participating universities will be able to research and drive the adoption of FPGA co-processing for high-performance computing applications such as medical imaging, data analytics, text searches, network security, bioinformatics and energy.
“Supporting academic research into new applications and architectures is a clear demonstration of the benefits of the open and collaborative model of Torrenza, AMD’s extensible system bus program,” said Doug O’Flaherty of the Advanced Technologies Group at AMD. “This program is exactly what we envisioned when we developed the open-architecture project, giving developers the freedom to take high-performance computing to the next level.”
“Our Sun Ultra 40 is the workstation-of-choice for many energy, government, defense, and scientific research applications,” said Marc Hamilton, director HPC Solutions at Sun Microsystems. “For many of these applications, FPGA co-processing can provide further performance acceleration along with power and space savings.”
Twenty Sun Ultra 40 workstations, each powered by single or dual-core AMD Opteron processors with Direct Connect Architecture and an XtremeData XD1000 FPGA co-processor module, are being made available under the program. The XD1000 co-processor module includes Altera’s largest Stratix(R) II FPGA, the EP2S180. The FPGA module is pin-compatible with an AMD Opteron processor and allows researchers to speed up algorithms running on the Sun platform by up to 100 times and applications by up to 10 times. For more information, see related Altera announcement dated June 6, 2006.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, home of many of the earliest and largest computer systems since 1952, is the first university to receive workstations through the program. The workstations will complement the “Trusted ILLIAC,” a 500-processor programmable hardware/software cluster that utilizes FPGA co-processors to make large-scale computing more reliable and secure.
“This combined effort creates a valuable new program that we can immediately begin leveraging for our high-performance secure computing research,” said Professor Wen-mei Hwu, holder of the Jerry Sanders-AMD Endowed Chair in Electrical & Computer Engineering, and leader of the Embedded and Enterprise Systems Theme of Illinois’ Information Trust Institute. “Research results derived from the donated systems will aid the commercial adoption of FPGA co-processing.”
“We see FPGAs as an essential component of next-generation parallel computing systems because programmable logic provides the unique capability to customize and accelerate both computation and memory system behavior,” said Professor Kunle Olukotun, of Stanford University’s Computer Systems Lab. “FPGAs are particularly valuable in a computer system’s research environment because they allow new architecture ideas to be evaluated at hardware speeds.”
“Universities will apply these systems to accelerate applications with this new FPGA co-processor model,” said Mike Strickland, director strategic and technical marketing for Altera’s computer and storage business unit. “This cooperation results in a robust solution which is of immediate value to many research programs.”
Applications to this university program can be made through the XtremeData or Altera websites. Upon selection, complete development systems will be made available to research recipients. Multiple system donations to individual research teams are planned.
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