(05/08/12) Robert McMillan
Virginia Tech researchers launched the MapReduce On Opportunistic Environments (Moon) project five years ago with the goal of turning the university's Math Emporium, which contains 550 Apple computers, into a type of supercomputer that is based on the same technology that Google developed to power its search engine. The Project Moon researchers' paper on the system was recently named one of the most important distributed supercomputing papers in the past 20 years. "We're going through technology transfer and trying to figure out how much more we might need to do to package it if people want to license it or to spinoff a company off of it," says Virginia Tech researcher Wu-chun Feng. Project Moon is based on Hadoop, the open source version of Google's MapReduce platform, and it is one of many efforts to apply the platform to more than just Web services. The Project Moon researchers used Hadoop to turn each Apple computer into a node on a supercomputer, with each machine helping to solve complex data-analysis problems. In theory, the 550 Apple computers in the Math Emporium could be transformed into a supercomputer capable of performing 6.6 trillion mathematical operations per second.
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