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Sun s Tunathon Program Speeds Up Bioinformatics Applications

NEW YORK, Oct. 8 - Sun Microsystems’ ‘Tunathon’ program increased by an average of 75 percent the company’s performance on a number of applications, including gene sequencing and DNA comparison applications, Sun said on Monday. 

Peter Crosby, product line manager for Sun’s Forte Developer tools, told GenomeWeb that the Tunathon team achieved a speedup of 1.75X on a system running FastA and a speedup of 1.9X on a system running Blast.

The Tunathon program, an effort to optimize customer application performance on Sun's Solaris operating system and SPARC platform, focuses on applications from 35 different companies. Teams of engineers from various Sun organizations worked with the application developers at customer sites to analyze and improve application performance.   

Crosby declined to disclose the identity of the companies running these applications.

The teams analyzed each application's execution behavior to locate bottlenecks, memory issues, and computational problems. Source code was either recompiled with the latest compilers in Forte Developer or was rewritten to improve performance. 

Crosby said the program was undertaken primarily for Sun’s internal purposes, “to see what performance problems are out there in the field.” He said that in many cases performance was hampered by older versions of the compilers or by threading problems.

Sun is still planning the next version of the Tunathon program, so it remains unclear how customers may eventually benefit from the reported performance gains. However, Crosby said, “There’s talk of [the Tunathon program] having more external benefit.”

“We may focus it more on a field we want to get into, and bioinformatics is certainly a field that is interesting to us,” he added.