Friday, May 17, 2002
12 Noon to 1:00 pm
Winfried W. Wilcke
IceCube is an experimental server project at IBM Almaden Research Center
in San Jose, CA. It is based on Lego-like storage and/or compute 'bricks',
which are stacked to form an extremely compact server. The true 3-dimensional
structure imposes both interesting challenges and opportunities. The opportunities
are that it is possible to implement a very fast and low cost network
fabric within the cube, reduce floorspace by a large factor and cleanly
solve the challenging thermal problems of a big server installation. As
it is not practical to remove bricks deep within an IceCube for maintenance,
the entire software architecture revolves around the principle that modules
are allowed to "fail in place". This challenge, however, is
a blessing in disguise, as it forces the architecture to be far more reliant
on automatic management of the system than more conventional systems.
In a sense this is an architecture which is designed from the ground up
to apply some of the more obvious ideas of autonomic computing. Presently,
a small 3x3x3 storage server prototype with about 30 TB capacity is being
built in Almaden.
W.W.Wilcke is a Program Director at IBM Almaden Research. His 1976 PhD
is in experimental nuclear physics, which led to his interest in very
large scale computing. In the eighties, he managed some of the IBM Yorktown
Multiprocessor projects (Victor and Vulcan) which were the fore-runners
of the IBM SP series of scientific computers. In the nineties, he headed
the HAL architecture group, which, in close collaboration with SUN, created
the 64-bit Sparc architecture and, later, very fast switches for Fujitsu.
He spent significant time sailing tropical waters before re-joining IBM
Research in California. There he worked with Transmeta on low power computing
before starting the IceCube project in 2001.