Magnus and EC (was Re: Erlang on "Cell" Architectures)

Lawrie Brown <>
Wed Feb 16 01:47:51 CET 2005


On Thu, Feb 10, 2005 at 12:18:13PM +1300, Richard A. O'Keefe wrote:
> Matthias Lang <> wrote:
> 	   The work which seems most closely related is something I vaguely
> 	   recall Dr Fergus O'Brien at RMIT talking about. He was (thinking
> 	   about?) adapting Erlang  for some massively parallel custom (?) 
....
> This was the Magnus project.  I have some documentation about Magnus,
> which I don't think I'm allowed to quote.  To be honest, I don't know

What public info there is, is given in:

  Maurice Castro, SERC-0128: EC: An Erlang Compiler, Software
  Engineering Research Centre, RMIT, July 2001.

which is available from:

  http://www.serc.rmit.edu.au/~ec/30docs.html

> as well as for conventional UNIX systems.  Ah, found something of Lawrie
> Brown's on the web I can quote:

Which is shamelessly stolen from the above ref :-)

> Lawrie Brown and Maurice Castro should know a lot about this.
> I've heard a few rumours; let's just say the problems RMIT ran into
> were financial and political rather than technical.

Umm yes. I actually don't know a great deal, but last I spoke with
Fergus I believe patent licencing deals were still being negotiated,
albeit very VERY slowly ... it may yet happen in the "fullness of time
(tm)".  It most certainly was not helped by RMIT's financial implosion
and consequent loss of most of its research people and units (in
practise if not in name)!

As for EC, well it works, but no-where near as fast as I would like
(which is testament to the great work put into the current Erlang runtime
by all the gang). I have at least got a system which compiles most of
the language (it being something of a moving target - we're some years
behind :-) and perhaps more significantly, has a run-time which actually
implements most of the BIFs (trust-me, thats no small feat, apart from
being a moving target, the shear number of them makes this more like
an O/S implementation!!!) so as a proof of concept that it is actaully
possible to create an alternate Erlang implementation, I think its pretty
significant. As a practical system though ... thats some way off.

And of course from my research perspective, it demonstrated that it is
indeed possible to implement the "Safe-Erlang" language extensions that
I proposed.

If anyone is interested, look at one of the EC site shadows:

    http://www.serc.rmit.edu.au/~ec/
    http://www.cs.adfa.edu.au/~ec/

And by all means hassle me with questions about EC :-)

Cheers
Lawrie

------------------------------------ <*> ------------------------------------
Post: Dr Lawrie Brown, School of IT&EE, , Canberra 2600 Australia
Phone: 02 6268 8816  Fax: 02 6268 8581  Web: http://www.unsw.adfa.edu.au/~lpb/ 



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