The FAST-OS research program is in support of future supercomputer architectures with one million or more CPU cores. Participants in the program include Sandia National Labs, IBM, Bell Labs, Vita Nuova, and Carnegie-Mellon University.
We are researching the operating systems architecture for large scale machines being delivered today but, more importantly, for those being delivered in the 2011 timeframe. In contrast to current approaches, which use a full-featured (and very heavy weight) Linux kernel or a very limited Light Weight Kernel, we are focusing on the Plan 9 operating system.
We have ported Plan 9 to the IBM Blue Gene/L machine, and are working on a port to the newer Blue Gene/P system. We have also purchased a small Cray XT4 and will be working on a port to that system in 2008.
Some idea of the small and portable nature of Plan 9 can be grasped from the fact that it took four of us, in total, about four weeks to do a complete port of Plan 9 to BG/L. This port included support for
3 new network types (global barrier, collective, and torus); modifying the compiler to support the extended floating point unit; and the port to a new Power PC 440 architecture. At the same time, Plan 9 supports far more capability than the Light Weight Kernels; for example, it has sockets, dynamic linking, and file systems support.
For more information, see: