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October 1993

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Volume 1, Issue 1
January 1993

Steven J. Wallach

Senior Vice President of Technology, Member of the Board of Directors, and Co-Founder, Convex Computer Corporation Member, CRPC External Advisory Committee

Steve Wallach's interest in computing began while he was an undergraduate at Polytechnic University. "The first programming course I took, FORTRAN II and MAP for the 7040, really turned me on," he said. "I took courses in logic design and switching theory and was still interested. The rest just came naturally."

Since that time, Wallach has become a leader in high-performance computing, founding the Convex Computer Corporation (a major manufacturer of scalable parallel systems based in Richardson, TX) with Robert J. Paluck in 1982. Wallach was the chief designer of the Convex C1, dubbed "the world's first affordable supercomputer," and is responsible for the overall technical design of Convex's MPP effort. Convex maintains its success by providing solutions at the high and the low ends. "Convex's objectives are to have products that fill in all places in the Branscomb pyramid, other than desktop workstations," said Wallach.

Before Convex, Wallach was Manager of Advanced Development at Data General, where he was responsible for the architecture of the MV series of computers. Much of his work is chronicled in the book The Soul of a New Machine.

Among his professional interests, Wallach serves on the advisory council of the Rice University School of Engineering, on the Department of Commerce Computer Systems Technical Advisory Committee, and on the board of directors of Polytechnic University, where he received the 1993 Distinguished Alumnus Award. He was also recently elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Wallach received a B.S.E.E. from Polytechnic University, an M.S.E.E. from the University of Pennsylvania, and an M.B.A. from Boston University.

On the state of high-performance computing, Wallach commented, "We must have scalable parallel processing in a user-friendly manner. All vendors of high-performance computing are now using off-the- shelf RISC chips and the servers using these processors must also be software compatible with the desktops using these chips. This leverages the applications and middleware (i.e., nfs, motiff, etc.) that comes with desktop compatibility. The government provided the initial momentum for HPCC. Now it is up to the private sector to keep it going."

"The CRPC is providing the applications, software tools, compilers, language design, and algorithms to make scalable parallel processing the dominant form of high-end computing. Its greatest strength lies in the management team and structure that has permitted a geographical team of world- class researchers to work on projects." The CRPC's External Advisory Committee, said Wallach, provides "guidance in industrial and academic needs that the CRPC can help meet."

Wallach noted that many of the previous efforts to advance vector supercomputing have provided a software and numerical foundation for advancements in scalable parallel processing. With several researchers who have helped to provide this foundation, the CRPC is now deeply involved in the "second coming of high- speed computing."

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