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ACTION-NYS Brings Parallel Computing to New York State Industry

ACTION-NYS is a program organized by the Northeast Parallel Architectures Center (NPAC) that introduces New York State companies to parallel computing. The program reaches out to industry by developing parallel computing applications for industry needs, providing access to NPAC parallel machines, and offering education and training to industry in high-performance computing. The NPAC is affiliated with the Center for Research on Parallel Computation (CRPC) through Syracuse University. Several CRPC-sponsored researchers work on NPAC projects.

In cooperation with technical executives of targeted corporations, ACTION prepares surveys of potential uses of parallel computing for industry. NPAC staff determine the best methodology for integrating parallel computing and initiate small "proof-of-concept" projects to demonstrate possible results for future applications. Researchers then identify large applications projects to integrate a parallel computing technology into the infrastructure of a company.

CRPC researcher and ACTION-NYS director Geoffrey Fox is especially interested in helping small businesses become more competitive through ACTION. Fox envisions an environment of high-performance computing and communications resources and support that small high-tech businesses can use as a base for entrepreneurial expansion. This environment could spawn a new high-performance computing software industry that would function like a virtual corporation, with alliances and partnerships forming to address technological issues and compete for contracts. Successful small business assistance initiatives have been formed with Sonnet Software, Coherent Research Inc., and two out-of-state companies that are planning to open branch offices in Syracuse to utilize ACTION- NYS resources.

A major new initiative of ACTION-NYS is the creation of NYNET, an experimental high-performance network to support research collaborations between members of the "Supercomputing Corridor," a group of research institutions that includes Cornell University, Rome Laboratory, and Syracuse University. NYNEX/New York Telephone Company and the Metropolitan Development Association have supported this effort with dedicated staff and financial support. NYNET is a natural vehicle for the development of dual-use applications to benefit both the defense and civilian industries and the advancement of HPCC networking technology, providing a platform for the next generation of virtual organizations. The upstate NYNET project built upon the Supercomputing Corridor is expected to connect with a downstate effort between Polytechnic Institute and Columbia University to form a base for a statewide HPCC network. The state network will enhance the efforts to create a healthy high-tech community in New York.

Large New York State corporations continue to play key roles in ACTION- NYS projects. ACTION researchers are developing a research project with New York Telephone Company to simulate telephone networks and are developing benchmark applications on parallel computers for IBM. Another IBM venture involves the development of environmental modeling using distributed networks of high-performance IBM workstations. Negotiations are underway on a similar networking project with Digital. ACTION researchers are also working with Rome Laboratory to apply distributed computing to applications in health care and executive decision-making. Other potential projects being investigated include financial modeling for Wall Street investment firms and parallel database applications for health care organizations.

As a direct result of Fox's survey of potential applications for high- performance computing in industry, a new project called PCE-TECH was developed. PCE-TECH will evaluate emerging "enabling technologies" for high-performance computing and assist with software development to integrate them into an industrial framework. The program will put a special emphasis on technologies relevant to the CRPC. This initiative has attracted national attention and recently expanded to include technologies from several major universities and national laboratories.

ACTION-NYS has made great strides in stimulating the use of parallel computing in industry. The first year of ACTION saw the completion of more than 50 industrial applications. In addition, ACTION-NYS is expected to create some 1,000 jobs in the New York's software development industry. "As the promise of ACTION's activities is realized in the coming years, the commitment of participating institutions will produce a payoff," said Fox.

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