Boston University - Computer
Friday - February 19, 2010
Physics Research Building - Room 595
a Global Scale Public Computer"
In this talk we describe our work, at IBM Research
on Project Kittyhawk, exploring the viability
of a Global Scale Public Computer. We begin
with a brief discussion of what we mean by a
global scale public computer and global computation.
We define our notion of a Global Scale Computer
as a well specified public, "software-less",
massively parallel system, on which users can
construct services, of arbitrary scale within
resource limits, out of metered and billed common
units of its capacity grouped in domains of
communication they specify and control. The
basic approach taken in project Kittyhawk is
the combining of global computation with a massively
The core of the talk presents our prototype
system built on IBM's Blue Gene/P hardware platform.
We describe the hardware and how we utilize
it to permit principals to construct both private
and shared computational environments from hardware-based
common units of capacity in the form of Blue
Gene/P nodes. These nodes are composed of cores,
memory, and communication resources. To construct
the environments we prototype support for control
channels and a primitive we call a communication
domain that establishes which nodes can communicate
with each other. We describe some examples that
utilize open-source software to construct internet-inspired
global computation scenarios out of the raw
hardware nodes and network topologies realized
on communication domains.
After presenting the prototype we briefly discuss
why, in contrast to trends in cloud computing,
we have chosen to focus on hardware capacity
rather than virtualization, and conclude by
raising the question of how we want our digital
future to evolve given the warnings and advice
of pioneers such as John McCarthy and others.