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Intel wants to tune your cluster

Buys Pallas for grid and HPC know-how

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Intel has signed on to acquire German software maker Pallas, hoping the company's performance tools can give it an edge in the compute cluster arena.

Come September, Intel expects to close the deal that will have 23 Pallas engineers join the chip king, an Intel spokesman confirmed. Pallas makes a wide variety of products, but it's the HPC and grid computing pieces that Intel is most interested in.

Over the last couple of years, Intel has seen its place in the high performance and technical computing markets take off. The strength of its Xeon processor, in particular, has allowed labs and private sector companies to turn to clusters of small servers for tough computing tasks, as opposed to more expensive SMPs. The one- and two-way Xeons boxes may not have all the bells and whistles of higher end kit, but they are cheap and fast. If the software can be chopped up and crunched in parallel, a cluster may well be the way to go.

Pallas' Vampir and Vampirtrace suites are designed to check on how well parallel, distributed memory systems are performing. Whether it's a cluster sitting in one room or a grid of computer linked via several sites, Pallas monitors overall system performance. The Vampir 3.0 product, for example, checks on applications processing times, load balancing, subroutine and code block performance and message passing.

These tools should help Intel, its ISVs and hardware partners evaluate code running in a cluster. Similar software from Pallas is also on the way for SMPs - a plus for the Xeon and Itanium crowd.

"Intel has always put a lot of energy into helping people use their systems effectively at the platform level," said Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata. This is a pretty logical extension. It's not really "clustering" per se but rather using Intel systems effectively in clustered environments."

It's not immediately clear what will happen to Pallas' firewall, server hosting and content management businesses. Intel said it wants the HPC folks only. Those 23 individuals will continue to reside in Bruehl, Germany. ®

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