[erlang-questions] Erlang on supercomputers

Olivier BOUDEVILLE <>
Wed Apr 4 16:18:35 CEST 2007


Hi,

first, sorry if the question is irrelevant, I am by no means an HPC or 
Erlang expert. 

I was wondering whether, for the simulation of a large-scale distributed 
system, one could use Erlang on a supercomputer such as an IBM's 
BlueGene/L (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Gene for a description).

I know that such computers do not belong to the readily-supported 
platforms, and that even with the newly added SMP/multi-core features of 
the R11B it would not be a piece of cake, but technically I just cannot 
figure out what the porting effort to such "exotic" architectures could 
be.

Knowing that each processor is a PowerPC (and that Erlang works on Mac) 
running a very minimal (very light-weight, mono-process) GNU/Linux OS with 
limited POSIX support,  what I imagine is that it would be feasible to run 
on each of the, say, 4000 nodes, a stripped-down Erlang interpreter that 
would schedule itself (without much support of the OS, no light-weight 
threads) numerous interacting Erlang processes that could communicate 
preferably with other processes on the same node or, otherwise, with 
processes running on close nodes. 

Is having Erlang running on these architectures technically possible with 
a limited porting effort ? If yes, am I correct to think that, provided we 
manage to place cleverly the concurrent processes (the more two of them 
are interacting, the "closest" they are in the communication topology, a 
three-dimensional torus), we could in some way take advantage of the 
message-passing nature of Erlang to use (even less-than-optimally) the 
processing power of these machines ?

Another idea, still more hazardous : suppose one has a working MPI 
implementation on a given computer. Would it be possible to build a 
version of Erlang on top of it ? I believe they share at least some 
message-passing conventions...

Thanks in advance for any hint,

Olivier.

PS : I will be out of the office for a while, but sure I will try to 
contribute to any mail exchange afterwards
---------------------------
Olivier Boudeville

EDF R&D : 1, avenue du Général de Gaulle, 92140 Clamart, France
Département SINETICS, groupe ASICS (I2A), bureau C-052
Office : 33 1 47 65 59 58 / Mobile : 33 6 16 83 37 22 / Fax : 33 1 47 65 
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