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Scalable performance monitoring software draws grant from Intel

Professor Bart P. Miller
Madison, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin-Madison was one of seven U.S. research universities to receive a grant from the Intel Advanced Computing Center on Monday at the SC2004 high-power computing conference in Philadelphia.

The recipient of the $50,000 grant was the team led by Barton Miller, a UW-Madison professor of computer sciences.

The grant was given to Miller and his team for their work on scalable performance installation, developing tools that are used to improve performance analysis and handle problems in multi-processor computers.

“The idea is to take cluster tools and programming models and make sure they work on larger-scale clusters,” said James Malone, program manager for Intel’s ACC. “We identified the key technology that we thought needed funding to get a push forward … I see performance analysis as a long-term growth.”

Miller’s projects to develop scalable performance software are part of the Paradyn system, which uses the technique of dynamic instrumentation to gather performance profiles in a computer network. In the system, the Paradyn performance instrumentation is inserted into existing programs, automatically directing a study of performance as part of the execution.
Malone said that the grant was awarded to Miller’s team of researchers because computer capacity grows continually larger, and Intel is looking for ways to expand their performance analysis. With tens of thousands of nodes operating, it is difficult for a system to be monitored properly and performance issues to be debugged. Paradyn can scale itself to the size and scope of the system it is used in, and is adjustable for new additions to the system.

“Right now it’s very static,” Malone said of analyzing a system’s performance. “What we’re interested in is automated performance analysis … enable that capacity in a tool sweep.”

Other schools awarded grants by Intel at the conference include the University of Illinois, which received two grants for its work on multithreading for software development and parallel file systems on Intel’s Itanium processor-based clusters. Purdue University was given a grant for the Spike algorithm to support cluster application, and the University of Arizona received one for a project on optical interconnects for networks. At the conference Intel issued seven grants totaling $600,000.

Malone said that while the grants are only for one year, they were given to the professors with the intent that they help the project move forward. If the project shows a considerable rise in success that Intel finds applicable to their systems, the grant may be renewed.

“What we’re doing in a sense is to give seed money to research that we think is important, and give it to professors with an impressive track record,” Malone said. “We think Miller’s got capability in performance analysis.”

Miller and his team were still at the conference and could not be reached in time for this article.

Les Chappell is a staff writer for WTN and can be contacted at

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