Weta in the new net?

Nothing prevents film company machine being hooked to new generation research network, say implementers

Weta Digital’s “supercomputer” array of blade servers could become a node on New Zealand’s high bandwidth advanced research and education network.

Telecom has reached an agreement through its newly acquired systems integration subsidiary, Gen-i, to sell the services of the cinematic special effects company's powerful blade-processor array. It envisages dedicated 1Gbit/s links to potential users, but Telecom hosting and storage manager Eric Pilon says there should be no difficulty providing part of its capacity over the “next generation internet” planned to link educational and research establishments (Computerworld, September 6).

There need be no nervousness over blurring of the borderlines between commercial endeavour and research and education, Pilon says, as the planned 1008 blade processors — double the present number — can be securely partitioned in increments of 28. (To save readers the trouble of reaching for their calculators, 1008 = 28 x 36.)

Advanced Network implementation manager Charles Jarvie at the Ministry of Research Science and Technology says integration of the Weta machine into the network "is certainly something we would look at". Incentive for such a move could come either from an individual user or from the network's planners.

The network's developers are soon to publish a "network use policy", Jarvie says. This accommodates collaboration with the private sector under controlled terms and seeks to reassure some potentially valuable partners such as Telecom that the network will not be competing with their offerings in the general marketplace.

The network's developers have had to abandon the promising acronym Arena (good for headlines and appealing to Latinists through its literal translation "sand" and consequent association with silicon and fibre optic communications — though hopefully without the connotations of battle). "We had a trade-name clash," Jarvie says. For the present, the project is simply called the "Advanced Network".

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