Oracle is stopping work on the HPC Fortran alternative language project, Fortress, due to the difficulties it presents.
The Open source language project for High Productivity Computing Systems (HPC), that was started by Sun is being ‘wound down’ by Oracle. Project Fortress, which was part funded by the US DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has faced too steep technical hurdles, according to a blog post by Guy Steele of the Oracle Labs Programming Language Research Group.
The idea behind Fortress was develop a better alternative to Fortran for HPC. Steel says in his blog post that:
"Many aspects of the Fortress design were novel, and we learned a great deal from building an interpreter and an initial set of libraries."
He explains that the technical challenges arose because of a mismatch with the “rather ambitious Fortress type system” and there being no virtual machines designed to support it.
The work on Fortress will be gradually reduced over the coming months. The codebase will remain open source, and Oracle's Programming Language Research Group will answer queries about it.
Steel lists a number of aspects that the team is ‘quite pleased’ about, including the use of generators and reducers to organize collections classes and their use. He describes this idea as related to "map-reduce" but a bit more general. Implicit parallelism supported by work-stealing was another plus point, and proved an effective implementation mechanism for parallelism on shared-memory processor clusters.
Fortress also uses nested atomic blocks supported by transactional memory, and the team believes this to be a powerful and expressive alternative to locks for expressing synchronization among threads in a shared-memory environment.