Dev Bytes

Researchers at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University have developed a technique that allows them to use light, rather than electricity, to send data between microchips, the university announced in late December. The technology will greatly increase the speed at which data travels in computer and networking systems, according to one of the inventors.

The new technique relies on the same technology used in fibre optic communication, but adds a new material for building chips to the equation. While computer chips are currently built using silicon, the new technique, called “silicon on sapphire,” uses thin slices of silicon placed on top of a layer of synthetic sapphire to achieve its effects, according to Alyssa Apsel, a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins and co-inventor of the technology.

Survey: Java breezes by .Net for Web services

An informal survey of IT decision-makers whose companies are getting an early start at building Web services suggested that most developers are choosing Java-based tools over Microsoft Corp.’s .Net, a research company said recently. Polling 120 IT executives in early December, Giga Information Group Inc. found that 78 per cent of the group viewed J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) server software as the most effective platform for building and deploying Web services. Microsoft’s .Net, which enables users to build Web services for Windows server operating systems, accounted for 22 per cent of the votes.

“Frankly, I found the results rather surprising,” said Mike Gilpin, an analyst at Giga, who surveyed the group. “In February, we did the same study with a different group. At the time, Microsoft came out No. 1.” Giga polled IT executives who attended its Emerging Technology Scene Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz. Gilpin noted that the group polled was not representative of the entire developer population, but rather IT departments at large organizations that are building or planning to build Web services – typically early adopter organizations.

IBM supercomputer to help in Mars trip

IBM Corp. will provide the University of Texas at Austin (UT) with powerful supercomputing systems for research into areas including planned flights to Mars and next-generation Internet grid computing, the company said.

The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) will house a system comprising an IBM eServer Cluster 1600 Unix system, built using four eServer p690 systems, and two eServer 1300 Linux systems. One of the Linux systems will be an Intel Corp. IA-64 cluster with 40 Itanium 800MHz processors, and the other an Intel IA-32 based on 64 Pentium III 1GHz processors. Working together, the system triples the aggregate computing power of the separate products, IBM said in a statement.

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