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BP: Computing Colossus

Apr 24, 2003, 22:00 (2 Talkback[s])

[ Thanks to Matt for this link. ]

[Editor's Note: This is a bit of technical marketing from BP, but it does give a lot of depth on just what all of those seismic-computing Linux clusters are actually doing. -Peace, BKP]

"Motionless they stand, near-silent sentinels staring across a temperature-controlled world away from the normal hubbub of office life. The sound they produce is little more than a low hum; there are no spectacular flashing lights, no spinning tape reels. Nothing to indicate what lies within.

"But looks can deceive. For here, nestled in a quiet wing of BP's Westlake office campus in Houston, these outwardly ordinary-looking banks of computers not only house the latest in silicon chip technology, but operate in harmony to lay claim to being one of the most powerful commercial computing centres in any industry, anywhere in the world. And for the job BP is asking them to do, they need to be.

"Critical to this success has been the adoption of the Linux operating system to control the computers. Linux represents a significant departure in the world of computers as it is effectively 'free' to users as part of what is known as the open source software community. The operating system, developed by student inventor Linus Torvalds at the University of Helsinki in Finland, came into being in 1991. While Linux bears similarities to the well-established proprietary UNIX operating systems, its source code and software kernel remain freely distributable. This fact has enabled many software programmers to expand and advance the system, making it a highly attractive lower cost alternative offering sophistication, reliability and the capacity to be upgraded as required..."

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