Sun Microsystems Inc. and the San Diego Supercomputer Center have become steadfast allies, a relationship one researcher described as "deep and fruitful."
Both are at the top of their field in network computing. Both want to advance their technological expertise. And both want to leverage that combined cachet to attract more work.
When the world's largest aerospace company, The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA), wanted to see how Sun's (Nasdaq: SUNW) software and hardware was being used on a large-scale, day-to-day basis, they recently visited the San Diego Supercomputer Center, according to center researcher Greg Bruno.
"It's a showcase for their customers," Bruno told reporters at a media briefing held Thursday at Sun's Towne Centre Drive campus.
Sun has made an effort in recent years to forge relationships with researchers at various, often federally funded, institutions, said Clark Masters, Sun Microsystems' executive vice president and general manager of enterprise systems products.
In exchange for donated equipment and funding, Sun has access to "smart people who can give us feedback," Masters said.
"They play a first customer role," he said.
The San Diego Supercomputer Center and Sun showed off their joint efforts at the "Supercomputing 2003" high-performance networking and computer show held last month in Phoenix.
A team from the center assembled, installed and demonstrated applications on a 128-node Sun Fire-brand supercomputer within two hours, a feat intended to demonstrate that powerful cluster computers can be set up quickly and relatively inexpensively.
Scientists that might use supercomputers to mine for information don't want to waste their time setting up a complex computer, Bruno said.
To show the computational potential of such a system, Supercomputer Center program director Kim Baldridge used the supercomputer at the Phoenix show to gather data for cancer research to be published in an upcoming trade journal, according to Bruno.
The San Diego Supercomputer Center has been built on alliances. It's an organized research unit of the University of California, San Diego, and is primarily funded by the National Science Foundation.
More than 50 commercial, government and private organizations partner with the San Diego Supercomputer Center for various projects, including IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
The supercomputer center employs more than 400 scientists, software developers and support personnel.
Meanwhile, Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun established its three-building campus in San Diego's University Towne Centre area following a series of acquisitions. The local site employs some 530 employees, according to Sun spokeswoman Kathy Tom Engle.
The San Diego Supercomputer Center: www.sdsc.edu
Sun Microsystems Inc.: www.sun.com