SiYB is a Supercomputer in your Browser

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supercomputer-in-your-browser-300x198Over at the Cisco Blog, Jeff Squyres writes that the new “Supercomputer in your browser” (SiYB) project is designed to bring the rich High Performance Computing ecosystem to the world’s most popular software: web browsers.

The free SiYB software is a web browser plugin that is easily installed on any desktop or laptop computer running Windows, OS X, or Linux.

I’ve been working in the HPC ecosystem for over 25 years, ” says Rich Brueckner, president of insideHPC Media, “This is the most innovative, wide-reaching initiative I’ve seen in a long time. It has the potential to completely revolutionize the HPC industry.”

The goals of the SiYB project are:

  1. Promote widespread access to large amounts of raw computing power (i.e., web browsers running on computers across the entire planet).
  2. Bring the power of HPC applications to a new generation of app developers who are trained in Javascript and web-based technologies.
    How does it work?

The SiYB plugin enables Javascript support for the Message Passing Interface (MPI) API — the API that already powers big number crunching apps on the world’s most powerful supercomputers.

The “jsMPI” bindings allow the exact same kind of inter-process communication (IPC) both between computers and processor cores that HPC-class apps utilize on traditional “big compute” resources. Once HPC apps are converted from C / Fortran to Javascript, they can be launched and run by simply visiting a web site.

The SiYB plugin and jsMPI bindings are supported in Chrome, Firefox, and Safari on Windows, OS X, and Linux.

The Chrome SiYB plugin, however, has an additional trick that the others do not: it utilizes the Chrome Native Client (NaCl) functionality.

NaCl allows JavaScript HPC apps to make calls to optimized back-end C/Fortran libraries for maximum performance. This is quite similar to recent projects utilizing Python and other scripting languages for HPC applications: the scripting language is used for the “front end” / main logic of the application, but then dispatches to optimized compiled code for the numerical heavy lifting, so to speak.

Finally, a free transmorgafier developer kit is also available to convert existing C and Fortran apps to Javascript. The following picture shows the conversion process:



“I’m incredibly excited to see what web app developers can create in the HPC space,” says Rich Brueckner, “This could change everything.”

This story was posted on April 1.