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Nasa backs project to develop crash-proof computers

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IT industry heavyweights have this week signed up to work on Nasa-backed research project whose bold aim is to make computer crashes a thing of the past.

The eventual aim of the High Dependability Computing Consortium, which was launched yesterday, is to develop computer systems that will not fail.

Members of the consortium, the groundwork for which was laid earlier this year by Carnegie Mellon University using a $500,000 Nasa grant, said that improved computer reliability is essential for technology development. More reliable systems are needed to develop everything from the Internet and space exploration to more mundane task like managing sewage systems.

Quite how the group will develop crash-proof computers hasn't yet been explained as the consortium is yet to agree a research agenda.

The consortium's industry partners include Adobe, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, ILOG, Marimba, Microsoft, Novell, Silicon Graphics, Siebel Systems, Sybase and Sun.

Henry McDonald, director of the Nasa Ames Research Centre, told Reuters the consortium could become a multimillion dollar annual effort as other technology companies join.

Martin Griss, principal scientist for HP's Software Technology Laboratory and consortium steering committee member, said that developing crash-proof computers is critical to the fortunes of the technology companies themselves.

All of this is a bit rum. We wish the consortium well, but can't resist the observation that the fortunes of the IT industry over the last 30 years haven't exactly been hurt by the production of ropy software and servers that are up down like a pair of tart's knickers. Also we wonder whether, for example, Sun sees the commercial sense in investing the kind of serious money that will make the Blue screen of death a thing of the past... ®

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