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Quadrics co-founder jumps to Cray

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Duncan Roweth, one of the founders of British parallel supercomputer switch interconnect maker Quadrics, is leaving the company to take a job over at HPC rival Cray.

According to a statement released by Cray, Roweth will become the principal engineer at the supercomputer maker, reporting to Steve Scott, Cray's chief technology officer, and running Cray's research and development efforts in Europe.

Roweth got his undergraduate degree in mathematical physics at Manchester University and followed this up with a PhD in simulation algorithms for elementary particle physics at Edinburgh University. He worked at British semiconductor maker Inmos for a time and went with a bunch of employees from Inmos when they founded supercomputer maker Meiko in 1985.

Quadrics - which is based in Bristol, England - was founded in 1996 as a joint venture between Meiko and Alenia, itself a part of Italian high-tech conglomerate and defense contractor Finmeccanica.

Quadrics has a long history in supercomputing. The company had originally intended to create an interconnect for Sun Microsystems' UltraSparc servers, but formed a partnership with minicomputer maker Digital Equipment to create interconnects for its AlphaServers and was one of the key ingredients to DEC's successful deployment of clustered Tru64 Unix systems not just at large government and academic facilities, but at smaller HPC centers and among commercial entities who couldn't afford massive machines. Quadrics interconnects were used in the "Thunder" Itanium cluster installed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 2003, and in 2004, Bull used Quadrics interconnects for the Tera10 Itanium super as well.

But Quadrics has come under pressure from the advance of InfiniBand and 10 Gigabit Ethernet alternatives - and it is rumored that Quadrics interconnects were not chosen for the 200 teraflops Juropa supercomputer being built by Bull at Forschungszentrum Jülich in Germany. (A prototype IBM blade cluster for the Juropa project did use Quadrics interconnects).

Having seen the light, the latest Quadrics interconnect, QSNet-III, implemented in its Elan5 ASIC, is based on 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches and can link 4,096 server nodes into a parallel cluster. Quadrics has created Quadrics QSNet-III mezzanine cards that plug right onto blade servers and that link back to its Elite5 family of 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches to make the cluster.

Roweth was head of software research and development at Quadrics as well as being the HPC business development manager and technical sales lead for the company. He will be working on future interconnect technologies at Cray and will also help expand Cray's presence in big deals throughout Europe. What those interconnects might be, Cray is not saying - but you can bet that Roweth will be making the rounds as soon as Cray figures out what the plan is. ®

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