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August 19, 1998

SUN SUPPORTS PARALLEL OPENMP API EFFORT

By CBR Staff Writer

As expected (CI No 3,439), Sun Microsystems Inc has lent its support to the group of companies behind OpenMP, an API designed to make it easier for developers to write program tasks which can be executed in parallel or low-cost SMP systems. Traditional parallel programming environments such as MPI message-passing interface or Posix threads require expert programming knowledge. However, the emergence of processor architectures designed specifically to take advantage of parallelism to execute programs faster – such as the Intel Corp/Hewlett-Packard Co EPIC explicit parallelism-based IA-64 instruction set – will drive the creation of more general purpose parallel development tools. Compaq/DEC, IBM, SGI, HP, Intel and others formed the OpenMP initiative last year (CI No 3,278), though Sun wasn’t amongst its first supporters when the project went public claiming it hadn’t had enough advance warning to consider the proposals. Sun said it would join OpenMP following its recent acquisition of Fortran parallel programming specialist Dakota Scientific Software that specializes in the implementation of supercomputing technology on general purpose hardware. Sun says it will implement OpenMP in the Dakota Fortran toolset. In future most CPU processor architectures are expected to incorporate varying degrees of parallelism making the use of parallelism important for all vendors. OpenMP supporters hope the use of OpenMP will make it easier to write applications that can be migrated for use across Unix and NT.

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