Infosys makes a play for parallel computing

Infosys makes a play for parallel computing

To leverage recent developments in massive parallel computing, Infosys Technologies Ltd on Thursday entered into a research and education pact with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, initially committing $250,000-500,000 (Rs1-2 crore).

Infosys’ research arm, Software Engineering and Technology Labs (SETlabs) will work with the US-based university on harnessing the technology, said chairman and chief mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy.

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In massive parallel processing technology, hundreds, or even thousands of microprocessors run in parallel to deliver high-performance computing.

“We will work with them to leverage the full power of parallel processing in commercial applications, online transactions and so on," Murthy said. “We have to take advantage of the new hardware that is being developed."

Parallel processing at Infosys, the country’s largest information technology firm, is just beginning to take off.

Recently, it demonstrated to a financial services client how parallel processing could speed up applications, SETlabs general manager and associate vice-president Lokendra Shastri said, without disclosing the name of the client.

“This is a dynamic industry and we are keen on translating discoveries into applications with global relevance," said Robert A. Easter, interim chancellor and provost of the University of Illinois, who was in Bangalore to sign the agreement with Infosys.

The scope of the pact, Murthy said, is broader than development of parallel computing technology, and includes education and certification programmes.

S. Sadagopan, director of the Indian Institute of Information Technology at Bangalore, said a company such as Infosys stands to gain on several fronts by pushing ahead with parallel computing, and the potential for developing commercial applications is huge.

“Everyone’s computing needs are increasing. Just look at not only corporations but big government, their huge data centres, their online services and so on. It is massive," Sadagopan said. “And once companies start deploying parallel technologies, many applications will have to be rewritten to exploit parallelism, apart from new applications development."

In addition, he said Infosys, with 150,000 employees and large development and testing needs, would require enormous computing power. “Moreover, SETlabs itself is emerging as a good research lab, and you just can’t ignore massive parallel computing."

The University of Illinois has a history of research in supercomputing and working with industry to translate research into value.

Products and services such as Netscape Internet browser, online money transfer platform Paypal and video-sharing website YouTube have emerged from the work of its faculty and students.