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  1. Technology
November 29, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

Locus Computing Corp’s Transparent Network Computing system – which is now up to version 2.2 – includes network processing, distributed file services and distributed communications layers. It achieves what the Inglewood, California company describes as a semantic transparency by using the same commands and operations on all nodes. The interfaces used to access objects are the same whether the object is remotely or locally based; a given object name used from any site in the network always results in the same object; and object names are not location-dependent.


Layering is achieved by adding OSF/1 AD Mach kernel-based extensions it calls VPROC to Unix kernels. The VPROC layer is middleware that sits between the physical process management layer, the system calls interface and the network interface layer. A kernel call module interface is added to accommodate the VPROC layer. The company denies that its approach limits what developers can achieve with the system. The 10-year-old Transparent Network Computing system, which has been used in the past by the likes of Intel Corp on its first-wave Paragon massively parallel processing systems, appeared to have been one of those good ideas that never caught on – that is until the current (or at least widely fancied emerging) wave of distributed symmetric multiprocessing, massively parallel processing and Non-Uniform Memory multiprocessor architectures began to build. Locus claims that Transparent Network Computing is being used as the basis for a number of single-image projects on these symmetric multiprocessing clusters and on massively parallel processing offerings expected to appear through 1996. Although it won’t mention any names, Tandem Computers Inc and Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG’s Pyramid Technology Corp are already known to be working with Transparent Network Computing. Windows under Unix specialist Locus, which was recently acquired by Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois-based Platinum Technology Corp, has 40-odd engineers working on Transparent Network Computing and claims that its single-image technology could be providing as much as half of its turnover by the end of next year.

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