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Scary fast computers - Phil's Rambling Rants
June 21st, 2007
05:03 pm


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Scary fast computers
From a release on NVidia's web site, that I clicked through from a news page:
"The Tesla GPU features 128 parallel processors, and delivers up to 518 gigaflops of parallel computation."

Unless I'm misreading something, that's half a teraflop on a single chip.

I'm in the middle of Charles Stross' Accelerando. The things he projects about the amount of computing power available seem less far fetched today than they did yesterday somehow.

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(6 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:June 22nd, 2007 03:28 am (UTC)
Yes. But it's a very focused half a teraflop; It's a GPU, designed to quickly do graphics...from the press release I'm not clear if this power will be available to the general hardware for doing other things.
[User Picture]
Date:June 22nd, 2007 03:34 pm (UTC)
The press release clearly states that it's being marketed for scientific calculation, rather than for graphics, and asserts that they provide software support for generalized supercomuter use.

Time will tell, but if it's a real product, I might be playing with one myself -- I work in a lab that develops geochemistry software, one of the areas they specifically mention as an application.
[User Picture]
Date:June 22nd, 2007 04:31 pm (UTC)
I always wonder whether people who talk about massive-scale ubiquitous computing ("a million Crays sewn into your clothes!") have ever been in a server room when the air conditioning fails.
[User Picture]
Date:June 22nd, 2007 05:04 pm (UTC)
That's something I'd never really thought of. Just this week, I was discussing a serious proposal to build a supercomputer here at the U of I that would suck down a meaningful percentage of the total capacity of Abbot.

Better technology can certainly increase the MIPS/watt ratio by a few orders of magnitude, but when you're talking about increasing the MIPS by more than a few orders of magnitude, you're talking about a great deal of power and waste heat.
[User Picture]
Date:June 23rd, 2007 12:36 am (UTC)
There is finally some attention getting paid to that. Partly as people realize just how big the power bills are, and partly just from the practical challenges of forcing enough air through a room filled with racks that use tens of kilowatts each. Back in Cray days the CPU used 150+ kW but was directly liquid cooled. People are doing serious computational fluid dynamics studies of airflow in machine rooms.

The CPUs themselves run mighty hot, but lots of power gets wasted elsewhere. 30% efficient power supplies and zillions of tiny little inefficient fans in everything, and the chiller is cooling the air while a steam boiler is used to humidify.
[User Picture]
Date:June 23rd, 2007 12:21 am (UTC)
Now THAT is computing power. *drools*
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