Giant Leaps for Computing Power

Super Computer, the name itself reminds huge room full of equipment and scientists around it. But it may not take much time for individuals to own computing power comparable to that of super computers.

A prototype of what may be the next generation of personal computers has been developed by researchers in the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering. Capable of computing speeds 100 times faster than current desktops, the technology is based on parallel processing on a single chip.

The prototype developed by Uzi Vishkin and his Clark School colleagues uses a circuit board about the size of a license plate on which they have mounted 64 parallel processors. To control those processors, they have developed the crucial parallel computer organization that allows the processors to work together and make programming practical and simple for software developers. Parallel processing on a massive scale, based on interconnecting numerous chips, has been used for years to create supercomputers. However, its application to desktop systems has been a challenge because of severe programming complexities. The Clark School team found a way to use single chip parallel processing technology to change that.

Vishkin, a professor in the Clark School’s electrical and computer engineering department and the university’s Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, explains the advantage of parallel processing like this:

“Suppose you hire one person to clean your home, and it takes five hours, or 300 minutes, for the person to perform each task, one after the other,” Vishkin said. “That’s analogous to the current serial processing method. Now imagine that you have 100 cleaning people who can work on your home at the same time! That’s the parallel processing method.”

Vishkin and his team are now demonstrating their technology, which in future devices could include 1,000 processors on a chip the size of a finger nail, to government and industry groups. To show how easy it is to program, Vishkin is also providing access to the prototype to students at Montgomery Blair High School in Montgomery County, Md.

There are other related announcements also:

i) Sun’s Constellation System: World’s first petascale computing environment

June 26, 2007 — It was a mere decade ago that terascale computing took hold in science and engineering communities, giving researchers the tools to break new ground in physics, biomedicine, astronomy, and other areas. Now, Sun is ushering in a new era of high performance computing (HPC) with the Sun Constellation System, the world’s first petascale computing environment.

Sun’s unique approach to petascale computing combines state-of-the-art technology with system level innovation and off-the-shelf components in an open architecture. The result is a powerful HPC platform that is extremely powerful, easier to manage, and very cost efficient. A technology preview is being announced today; the shipping version will be available early next year.

ii) NVIDIA Tesla Architecture:

Massively-parallel computing architecture with 128 multi-threaded processors per GPU Scalar thread processor with full integer and floating point operations Thread Execution Manager enables thousands of concurrent threads per GPU Parallel Data Cache enables processors to collaborate on shared information at local cache performance Ultra-fast memory access with 76.8 GB/sec. peak bandwidth per GPU IEEE 754 single-precision floating point
It looks like we may not need those high end computing platforms for desktop/home environment, but who knows our future homes and gadgets may require it.

Btw, currently they are running a naming contest, to name their supercomputer prototype. The winner of the contest will earn a cash prize of $500, as well as the distinction of having named this advance in computing technology. Last date is Septermber 15th. So try your luck!!






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