GridAsia 2005 (which is hosting a handful of conferences, meetings,
etc.) is taking place this week in Biopolis, Singapore, and one group
that will have a fairly large presence throughout the event is the
Gelato Federation. GRIDtoday editor Derrick Harris speaks with Gelato
director Mark K. Smith about the organization in general, what Gelato
and its members are up to at GridAsia, why Asia is such a hotbed for
Grid, and why Linux on Itanium is the way to go.
Can you give a little background on Gelato and, specifically, its Grid Focus Group?
MARK K. SMITH:
The Gelato Federation is a world-wide
Linux-Itanium user community. Gelato was co-founded by HP and seven of
the world's leading research institutions in January 2002, and today
has grown to 49 members and three sponsors. In addition to our 49
member institutions, we have a vibrant community of individuals who
participate on Gelato-related projects and in general mailing list
discussions. Our member institutions are leading supercomputer centers,
government labs, research centers and universities worldwide, and are
committed to the Linux-Itanium platform for production and research
(details at www.gelato.org/participants/members.php
Our mission as the organizing body of this community is to bring
together those developing and using Linux on Itanium for the purpose of
fostering Itanium-specific research, focus groups and collaborative
discussions. An open exchange of ideas and solutions is nurtured
through diverse lines of communication, including our portal
), several interest-specific mailing lists and
regular meetings. Finally, Gelato facilitates the development and
dissemination of Linux Itanium open-source solutions, including a
complete and robust tool chain.
One area of particular interest to many of our members is the Grid.
Almost 60 percent of our members are contributing to the development of
Grid-related software. Collectively, our members ranked developing Grid
software and tools second in importance out of 18 areas. In addition,
almost half have indicated a need for better Grid-related software and
Since so many of our members have interest in, and are working on, Grid
software and tools, we provide a forum for them to share their research
and experiences in what we call the Gelato Grid Focus Group. Our vision
for this group is not to re-invent what other groups (such as the
Global Grid Forum) are doing, but to focus on maximizing the Itanium
platform's contribution to Grid computing. We want to build on previous
Grid work and focus on maximizing the performance of Itanium-specific
As our members engage in more and more Grid-related work, they are
sharing experiences with their Itanium systems in Grid environments.
Issues such as configuration, scheduling, job classification, benchmark
applications, authentication and data movement are key areas of
discussion. The bottom line is the Gelato Grid Focus Group wants to see
real-world applications running on a Grid which includes Itanium
systems. Applications that are well-suited for Itanium include
bioinformatics, computational fluid dynamics, climate modeling, gene
modeling, drug design and a host of visualization applications.
This focus group is exploring setting up a mini Itanium test Grid to
verify and optimize Itanium-specific Grid tools and software. The
ultimate goal is to get those real-world applications benchmarked and
running so the community at large can benefit from the computing power
of Itanium systems world-wide.
Why the focus on Itanium on Linux?
Itanium is offered in a refreshing, different way than
other proprietary 64-bit processors on the market. HP, SGI, Dell, NEC,
Fujitsu, Hitachi, Bull and Unisys all sell systems with Itanium
processors. You don't see HP selling machines with MIPS chips or SGI
selling machines with PA-RISC processors, but you do see HP and SGI
selling systems with Itanium. It's a new day.
The academic, government and industrial research community is
increasingly turning to commodity computing (i.e., commodity operating
systems running on commodity hardware) to develop, execute and share
work. While IA-32 Linux has been the commodity research platform of
choice, Linux on Itanium is coming on very strong. The speed by which
this transition occurs will greatly depend on the availability of
software solutions that exploit the architectural advantages of Itanium
and further advance the capabilities of Linux -- from the node, to the
cluster, to the Grid.
The combination of the open-source Linux operating system and the
vendor-neutral offering of the Itanium processors is a powerful
combination for encouraging cross company and community collaboration.
Gelato specifically takes advantage of an open-source operating system
and a platform based on a non-proprietary processor to achieve its
mission: to advance Linux on Itanium and create a community around the
platform. From that community will flow collaboration and mutually
beneficial projects that will further the infrastructure of the
platform. As the infrastructure further matures, more migration to the
platform will occur.
What kind of activities will Gelato be involved with at the upcoming GridAsia event?
We're very thrilled to be exhibiting at this inaugural
GridAsia event and having the opportunity to inform attendees about
Gelato's mission to advance Linux on Itanium.
In addition, on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 4, we will host a
Gelato Birds of a Feather (BoF) session to discuss Gelato's Grid
efforts. We are expecting 50 Gelato member representatives to attend,
and we'll have presentations from three noted Gelato member and sponsor
Grid experts. Professor Hai Jin from the Huazhong University of Science
& Technology in China will speak about the ChinaGrid Supporting
Platform (CGSP); Chih-Chiang Chang from the Academia Sinica Computing
Center in Taiwan will present his institution's LHC Computing Grid
(LCG) and Enabling Grids for E-sciencE (EGEE) middleware and
operations; and P. N. Anantharaman of HP India will talk about RSIP to
enable MPICH-G2 applications over the Grid.
Can you speak a little about the work Gelato members are
doing in the Grid field, specifically with Asian projects like
I'd like to start off talking about the National Grid
Office (NGO) in Singapore who is responsible for launching GridAsia
2005. This is a great opportunity for Grid computing researchers and
users to come together, and NGO has done a fantastic job organizing
everything. As part of their Gelato-related activities, NGO provides a
digital media Grid testbed. They also participate in an operational
Grid cyberinfrastructure connecting the National Grid Pilot Platform
(NGPP) in Singapore and Gelato member CERN (the European Organization
for Nuclear Research) in Switzerland.
As mentioned earlier, the Huazhong University of Science &
Technology is working on CGSP middleware developed for the construction
and evolution of the ChinaGrid. CGSP aims to integrate all sorts of
heterogeneous resources distributed over the education and research
network in China, and to provide transparent high performance,
reliable, secure and convenient Grid services for scientific
researchers and engineers. In addition to supplying the portal to
ChinaGrid, CGSP offers a whole set of tools for developing and
deploying various Grid applications.
CERN has created the Large Hadron Collider's Computing Grid (LCG). LCG
is an operational Grid with 90 sites from Europe, the United States and
Asia-Pacific participating. CERN is also part of the Enabling Grids for
E-sciencE (EGEE) Project. The Academia Sinica Computing Center is
collaborating with CERN on the development and deployment works of
LCG/EGEE and is acting as the LCG Regional Center in Asia.
Zhejiang University in China is developing the Dart-InfoGrid Tool
Suite, which focuses on building an IPF-based scalable information Grid
enabling large-scale data sharing and massively parallel process
coordination among loosely coupled clusters. They also have a project
called MASSIVE, which is a visualization and simulation environment for
multidisciplinary applications that supports local distributed
computing and Grid computing across the Internet.
Also in China is Fudan University who is working on a Grid platform on
an Itanium cluster and has several completed and ongoing projects on
Grid algorithms, middleware, and tools. In Singapore, the Institute of
High Performance Computing is working on Grid-based utilities for doing
remote scientific visualization.
In other parts of the world, there is the University of Copenhagen
Distributed Systems Lab, which is part of the Danish Center for Grid
Computing. The SPACI Consortium plans to implement a computational Grid
interconnecting research centers in southern Italy. And the
Universidade Federal da Campina Grande is collaborating with HP and
other Brazilian research institutions on the OurGrid Project to
research and develop solutions of usage and management of computational
What does Gelato hope to gain from its presence at GridAsia?
With any show or conference we attend, we hope to raise
awareness about the Gelato community and make new contacts for
membership and sponsorship of the organization. In addition, we are
often introduced to other community groups with which we can partner.
GridAsia is unique because it is being hosted and organized by several
Gelato Federation members: National Grid Office, Bioinformatics
Institute, and Institute of High Performance Computing. In addition,
many Gelato members in Southeast Asia and China will be attending the
conference. Traveling to Singapore will give us a chance to visit and
meet together with these member institutions at the Gelato BoF session
and Gelato member dinner and specifically discuss Grid topics of
Why is Asia such a big deal in the Grid community?
Asia, and especially China, is taking a strong role in
creating Grid tools and applications. It is becoming difficult to house
in one location all the computational power and data storage necessary
for complex problems. We see more Grid activity in Southeast Asia,
China and South America out of necessity. They historically have not
had massive single-site supercomputer installations to handle the
increasing computational complexity of today's data sets. The day is
quickly approaching when Europe and the U.S. will have to rely heavily
on Grid computing to solve the next generation computational problems,
The Gelato Coconut Project seems really interesting. Please explain it to our readers.
The Gelato Coconut Project is a mini-Grid, which will
allow Gelato members to remotely test upcoming Itanium processor
releases via computing facilities housed at Gelato Central Operations
headquartered at the University of Illinois. The Gelato Coconut Project
is a software support system of Grid tools to setup these computing
facilities and allow globally dispersed members access these resources.
The Coconut Project has many goals. One is offering a simple interface
with easy access to these computing resources. Another is diminishing
the registration footprint while providing a high level of security as
Gelato Coconut administrators do not personally know every person
involved with our 49 member institutions. Gelato hopes to gain Grid
operational experience on this small secure Grid. It will also give us
flexibility to provide our members with prerelease and virtual hardware
for review and testing.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
We are very excited about the future of Itanium and the
Linux-Itanium community. As you know, Itanium is making broad in-roads
into the HPC market. On the last top 500 supercomputer list, there were
83 Itanium systems, up 160 percent from the year before. The No. 2
system on the list is the SGI Altix-based Columbia supercomputer at
Gelato member NASA Ames.
There are new announcements every few weeks of Itanium installations in
the enterprise space. From our vantage point, Itanium is extremely
well-positioned to further penetrate both the HPC and enterprise space
in 2005. Later this year, the dual-core Itanium chip, Montecito, will
be released. Intel is also setting the stage for the release of their
chipset that will support both Xeon and Itanium. At that point, Itanium
will out perform Xeon by a factor of two for the same cost.
The Gelato community will continue to grow and expand offering a
greater support network and will continue to build and further mature
the infrastructure for the Linux-Itanium platform.