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Software Components Enable Wide-Area Supercomputing:
Takeoff of the Albatross

Thilo Kielmann, Aske Plaat, Henri E. Bal
Dept. of Mathematics and Computer Science
Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

April 1998


Ever-growing computational demands, along with the need for efficient utilization of existing supercomputing facilities recently fostered the development of a software infrastructure for constructing large virtual supercomputers from geographically distributed resources which are linked by high-speed networks. [10, 14] Such virtual supercomputers are typically referred to as metacomputers. Recent work indicated the utility of metacomputers not only for embarrasingly parallel problems, but also for applications with finer communication granularity [4]. But metacomputing software is still in its early development stages, mainly concerned with recognizing the many sources of additional complexity introduced by wide-area computing. While the necessity of resource-aware applications has been recognized, there is hardly any programming support for building such applications.

The goal of the Albatross project, currently conducted at Vrije Universiteit, is to focus on programmability and performance of parallel applications on top of metacomputing platforms. In this paper, we propose the construction of component toolkits as the most promising approach to the construction of metacomputing applications, because components allow to make programs resource-aware and simultaneously resource-independent. Finally, we sketch a set of possible components of such a programming toolkit.

Thilo Kielmann
Tue Apr 14 20:49:54 MET DST 1998