Bits & Bytes
SUPERFAST DATA BASES FOR THE SYSTEMS OF TOMORROW
Computer makers already sell parallel-processing machines that use several microprocessors in one box. But the next development in parallel processing may be a technique for linking several computers in clusters of "loosely coupled systems." To make such setups appear as a single computer, however, each computer in the cluster needs instant access to data stored in a shared data base.
Software maker Oracle Corp. says its Parallel Server program can do just that and will make clusters practical in on-line transaction-processing jobs such as running teller machines. The Oracle software synchronizes the computers so that each machine knows when another is calling up or changing a particular piece of data. Such updates slow down ordinary networks, but Parallel Server does it so quickly that the system never pauses, says Oracle Senior Vice-President Jerry W. Baker. That enables a three-machine system to process three times as many transactions per second as a single machine, he says. Oracle says the same software can also work on "massively parallel" systems, computers using thousands of processors.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENG