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9/7/2006
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AMD Taps Into Sun Utility Grid

Sun will also let software vendors list their applications, then create connection points to allow potential customers to access the Sun grid compute resources to run the specific applications.

Sun Microsystems says its "public" utility grid computing system has provided millions of CPU hours to customers in the six months it's been available. Sun plans to build on those sales by introducing an extension on Thursday that will give software providers the ability to link their products to the Sun Grid Compute Utility.

In addition, Sun revealed that one of its early utility customers has been Advanced Micro Devices, which tapped into the Sun compute resource pool for "instant" capacity during the development, testing, and manufacturing of new microprocessor designs.

"We've had a tremendous few months since the [launch in March]," says Aisling MacRunnels, senior director of utility computing for Sun. "A lot of people were impressed with the Sun Grid when it came, but one of the questions was what can we do with it. The message here is that this in not fluff and marketing anymore. This is real stuff. I know there was a lot of skepticism, but this is really working."

Sun is offering its utility computing capacity for a rate of $1 per CPU hour.

Sun already has six or seven large enterprises using its utility grid to gain access to millions of CPU hours over the past six months, MacRunnels says.

One of those businesses is AMD, which utilizes significant compute capacity when it prepares to bring out new processors and must complete rigorous, "compute-intensive" simulation testing of the new devices before bringing them to market.

Although AMD has its own large internal grid, it turned to Sun for additional capacity to "tape-out" new designs. "Bottom line was they could see that the performance of the Sun Grid was as good or better than what they had internally, and they could get up and running very quickly," MacRunnels says.

An inherent advantage for AMD was that much of the Sun Grid is built on Sun servers that use AMD Opteron processors.

On Thursday, Sun is introducing a "catalog feature" for its grid utility. The feature will let software providers list their applications at Sun's www.network.com Web site, then create connection points to allow potential customers to access the Sun grid compute resources to run the specific applications.

Potential customers of the software can access a list of the hosted applications by category (such as rendering), select a specific application, and then run a job using the software on the Sun utility grid. The effort will allow the software providers to reach customers who need access to compute resources, but don't want to make capital investments in IT infrastructure.

At the GridWorld conference in Washington, D.C., next week, Sun will also work with attendees to identify open-source applications to be added to the catalog, she says.

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