Sun introduces rent-a-cycle

Sun introduces rent-a-cycle

As more of the Defense Department's net-centric sensor programs come online, 'there is going to be a huge amount of data to store and analyze,' predicted Clark Masters, the new president of Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Sun Federal unit. 'You can never get enough storage.'

In a large storage and server rollout this week, Sun also announced it will sell N1 Grid Computing Pay-per-Use Cycles in the same way wireless carriers sell calling plans. The price is $1 per processor per hour.

Users can preregister now, at, to use the cycles beginning Oct. 4.

The N1 Grid service will connect the user to an individual workspace, called a container, which incorporates the Solaris 10 operating system and the Sun Studio 9 developer environment. The workspace runs on Sun Fire V20z and V40z servers with Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron processors. Sun Sparc-based servers will be available later.

Sun, along with Cray Inc. of Seattle and IBM Corp., is one of three vendors that are each matching their three-year, $50 million Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency grant to advance DARPA's High Productivity Computing Systems program.

Masters said he expects 'more federal supercomputing centers and national laboratories' to spring up by 2010 as a result of HPCS. The nation's 'great critical asset is computational superiority,' he said, but it has slipped from lack of federal investment.

Low-cost server clusters work well for huge workloads of what Masters called 'embarrassingly parallel' problems that can be decomposed into small pieces. But 'big machines with lots of physical memory are better for problems that require sharing lots of data. There's a place for both.'

Masters said Sun 'continues to dial up investment' in federal computing with its iForce center, set to open next month in northern Virginia.


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