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introduction - Volume 9 Number 1

CURRENT ISSUE - Volume 9 Number 1

Jane C. Blake,
Managing Editor

No matter how powerful the underlying hardware, most important to users is how that power translates to greater application performance and availability. Among the diverse topics in this issue of the Journal are innovative ways engineers have devised to meet application performance and availability requirements, and new tools for applications developers.

DIGITAL FX!32 is a unique softwareproduct that makes available hundreds of applications written for Intel machines to users of Alpha machines. Described by Ray Hookway and Mark Herdeg, FX!32 combines software emulation and advanced binary translation techniques to enable 32-bit applications that run on Intel-based machines with Windows NTto also run on 64-bit RISC Alpha-based machines with Windows NT. The design provides both the performance benefits and the transparency of operation that the project engineering team sought for users.

Also designed for the Windows environment is DIGITAL Visual Fortran, a tool for Fortran developers that combines technologies from DIGITAL and Microsoft Corporation. Leo Treggiari reviews the tool’s components, which include the Component Object Model (COM), Fortran 90, and Microsoft Developer Studio. He addresses the question of why developers need help accessing dynamic link libraries and servers based on COM, and then focuses on the newly created tool that provides this functionality, the Fortran Module Wizard.

DIGITAL’s shared-memory cluster interconnect, MEMORY CHANNEL 2, delivers the high levels of computational performance necessary to support the largest technical and commercial applications. Marco Fillo and Rick Gillett assess experiences with the first implementation of MEMORY CHANNEL that led to such enhancements as the crossbar design in this latest implementation. They conclude with performance data that demonstrate unparalleled performance in terms of latency and bandwidth compared with traditional interconnects. MEMORY CHANNEL 2 provides latency of less than 2.2 microseconds and bandwidth of 1,000 megabytes per second in an 8-node cluster.

Data security has long been important to system managers but not easily achieved in distributed heterogeneous systems. DIGITAL and BEA Systems have integrated ObjectBroker middleware with the Distributed Computing Environment’s Generic Security Service Application Programming Interface (GSS-API), as described here by John Parodi and Fred Burgher. The authors examine the choice of GSS-API for ObjectBroker and future directions in authentication software.

Design decisions made in the development of DIGITAL’s StrongARM microprocessor were driven by the sometimes opposing requirements of high performance and low power consumption. Targeted for use in handheld appliances usually powered by conventional batteries, StrongARM offers significantly higher performance than comparable microprocessors: It operates at 160 MHz, dissipating less than 450 milliwatts. James Montanaro, Rich Witek et al. step through the decisions designers made to implement the ARM V4 instruction set from Advanced RISC Machines Ltd.

Upcoming in the next issue of the Journal are technical papers about new AltaVista software and a new Windows NT personal workstation based on an Alpha 64-bit RISC processor. To view the results of a recent survey sent to Journal Web subscribers, see http://www.digital.com/info/dtj/dtj_surv.htm

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