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  1. Technology
November 25, 1993


By CBR Staff Writer

Current interest in the application of massively parallel processing technologies for commercial use, as opposed to more traditional compute-intensive scientific and academic work, has prompted Pyramid Technology Corp to set out its own massively parallel stall. The Mountain View, California-based company which disclosed back in July its intent to develop a parallel system (CI No 2,219) – says it will have a machine delivering up to 256 MIPS using R4400 RISCs running a parallelised version of its Unix System V.4 implementation out by October 1994. Its aims to coincide with the release of Sybase Inc Navigation Server and other parallel-enabled relational database technologies from the likes of Informix Inc and Oracle Corp. The system is codenamed Meshine, after the mesh-type bus interconnect technology it employs. It is a mechanism also used by ICL Plc and other parallel hopefuls, although Pyramid’s vice-president of development, Tom Hildebrand, is keen to stress that the bus itself is Pyramid’s own creation. ICL’s Goldrush parallel system uses a DeltaBus interconnect developed by Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG – the UK firm is building other Sparc-based servers using Pyramid’s existing symmetric bus technology – while Siemens Nixdorf and Pyramid are working on unspecified features of Meshine. Hildebrand said Pyramid chose a mesh-type interconnect over switching and hypercube techniques because it provides the highest performance opportunities for commercial processing tasks. The advantage of Meshine – which Pyramid insists is massively scalable, rather than massively parallel technology – over other offerings is its use of an identical version of the firm’s System System V.4 Unix implementation optimised for parallel processing. Not only will Meshine pick up from where Pyramid’s top-end, 16 CPU R4400-based Nile system leaves off, but the lines will offer binary compatibility, it claims. Hilderbrand believes Pyramid’s ability to offer a standard operating system on a parallel architecture with features such as high availability will give the firm a headstart on other offerings coming to market. Although it apparently has kit that comes close to a top-end Nile configuration with 16 CPUs and 4Gb memory, Hildebrand says it has customers that are ready to use whatever Meshine can deliver, and already has versions up and running in beta test form. Meshine will scale upwards over time, and will also be offered with a clustering capability. Hildebrand says that Pyramid itself is best placed to developing the high-end parallel Unix features it requires as any other effort, including the fruits of Unix Systems Group’s own parallel Unix development effort, is still some way off.

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