Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Eclipse Project Takes on Parallel Computing

Eclipse Project Takes on Parallel Computing
Development tools for parallel computer systems tend to be architecture-specific, difficult to integrate and fairly basic. Parallel application developers often find themselves juggling tools to match the different machines, shifting gears from stark command-line interfaces and text editors to a range of graphical user interfaces.

Greg Watson believes there should be a better way. As a researcher in Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Advanced Computing Lab, Watson investigates (among other things) tools for parallel computing systems. “The current state of development tools for these machines is pretty primitive,” he says. “It’s really time current practice in this area caught up with best practice of the computing industry.”

Watson found the means to that end in 2004 at the first-ever EclipseCon trade show. “I was really impressed with the capabilities of the Eclipse environment, and it occurred to me that it could provide a way of integrating the disparate parallel computing tools.”

Inspiration lead to six months of perspiration, a proof of concept and finally, this week, the announcement of the Parallel Tools Platform Project, a new Eclipse Technology project aimed at creating better open-source software tools for parallel computers. Los Alamos and Watson will lead the project, collaborating with institutions and companies worldwide to develop an open-source platform that will enable their products to operate on a wide range of parallel computing platforms.

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