Energy funds open-source performance tool

The Energy Department has contracted SGI to develop an open-source version of its high-performance computer-testing software, according to Steve Reinhardt, principal engineer for the Mountain View, Calif., company.

The agency hopes government laboratories and universities will use the software to measure the performance of their parallel applications that run on Linux-based clusters or single-image machines.

'This [software] is intended for application developers who have programs working but are not getting the answers as fast as they need,' Reinhardt said. 'This tool allows [the programmer] to dig in and find out why the program isn't running as fast as they expect.'

Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration has provided $2.9 million for the project, which it will oversee. SGI is contributing $3.6 million as well. SGI is collaborating on the job with the University of Wisconsin and the University of Maryland.

The funding covers four years, two for development and two for maintenance. SGI plans to offer the first full release of the software, called Open/SpeedShop, by mid-2006, though agencies interested in helping with the development process will get early versions.

The work involves porting SGI SpeedShop software, originally created for SGI's Irix operating system, over to the Linux platform, which, like Irix, is another Unix variant.

'Cost-efficient Linux systems are becoming commonplace in the nation's research facilities, but the ecosystem of open-source tools and utilities hasn't matured as rapidly,' Thuc Hoang, NNSA's program manager for the project, said in a statement.

'With the development of an open-source version of SGI's SpeedShop tool, researchers can begin relying on the same class of open-source parallel-performance tools that they have used for years in [high-performance computer] environments,' Hoang said.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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