Terra Soft's new Black Lab Linux cluster to advance MIICRO's drug development activities

Chicago 11 September 2000MIICRO Inc. has agreed to purchase a parallel computing cluster based on PowerPC microprocessors from Terra Soft Solutions Inc., Loveland, Colorado. MIICRO Inc. will use this high-speed computing environment to advance the development of its neuro-informatics services, namely the rapid screening of central nervous system (CNS) compounds and the development of high-speed image analysis tools.


"Our ability to rapidly analyse our CNS drug effect profiles in various ways, in conjunction with other analyses and other modalities, from a single point, will provide valuable new insights as well as better bio-measurement tools for CNS drug development", stated Declan Cooper, Vice President of Technology for MIICRO.

"Terra Soft's cluster makes it possible for us to port our code from a uni-processing mode to parallel processing mode for considerably less than we had anticipated. Our research has shown the PowerPC to be a strong and fast platform, it is therefore natural for us to stay with the same platform for parallel code development", according to Cooper. Parallel processing refers to the concept of speeding-up the execution of a software programme by dividing the programme into multiple fragments that can simultaneously execute across multiple computers.

Terra Soft is a developer of Linux solutions for PowerPC micro-processors. The company recently announced the offering of "Lab Rack", that is based on eight iMac logic boards acting as one supercomputer. The system is portable and has Terra Soft's Black Lab Linux operating system installed and configured for parallel software development. The logic boards are offered in speeds from 233 - 400 MHz with 32 - 512 MB RAM on each board. Terra Soft provides support and application development services. The 8-node systems start at $18.400.

"We recognised the need for a powerful, light weight, Black Lab Linux cluster that could literally be wheeled from room to room in a laboratory, school, or code development environment", stated Kai Staats, CEO of Terra Soft Solutions. "Parallel code development can be a bit tricky, and it is often comforting to have the entire cluster next to your desk. Our clusters will help developers get their feet wet with PowerPC Linux clusters", as Staats added.

"Linux continues to have a vital role in the development of MIICRO's commercial services and intellectual property", commented Cooper. "Lab Rack will play an important part in advancing and broadening the scope of our product offerings", he concluded. MIICRO is a privately held imaging technology company. The company's core technology, OMEI PET, utilises positron emission tomography to evaluate drug effects on the brain's metabolism of glucose. The OMEI technique can provide rational arbiters for decision-making and trial design, limit risk, and shorten the "time to market" for new pharmaceuticals.

Leslie Versweyveld

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