Archive for the ‘Hardware’ Category

Singularity - Fact or Fiction?

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

In this article from the Henry Daily Herald (we go to any length to find news), the notion of Singularity is discussed along with predictions for when, basically, computers will reach the cognitive capacity and function of the human brain. This prediction has been kicked around for some time and usually follows on the heels of talk about artificial intelligence. Citing one authority, the article states

Hans Moravec, a singularity expert, extrapolates that we will have a human-equivalent computer by about 2020 and a desktop version of it in the marketplace by 2030 for around $1,000 dollars.

Really? In any case, strangely missing from the article, which cites several experts on Singularity and brain-level computing, is any mention of Ray Kurzweil, perhaps the foremost living Futurist. Btw, we gave a nod to Ray and his predictions (who interestingly made pretty much the same prediction above back in 1999) right here on this blog back in January 2006. If all this stuff interests you, then you’ll love

Cluster computing and the Top500

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

Paralleling the last post that enormous computing power is achievable by utilizing multiple machines to solve problems, the latest installment of the Top500 Supercomputer Sites reveals that 75% of the list are cluster computers. Though the machines in the Top500 aren’t generally publicly available, many of the clusters that make up the list are made up of the very same machines you can buy yourself. For example, nine of the top 50 machines on the list are clusters of Dell desktop computers. The Top500 site provides a nice sublist generator, which allows you to search and create your own list from the entire 500. For example, use the generator to find only Cray machines in the list or find how many machines from Norway made the list. In fact, the generator has data as far back as 1993. Give it a try.

From the “Bringing it to the masses” bag

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

Ok, well, maybe it’s not the masses but the upgraded Cray XT4 at ORNL (aptly named Jaguar) is available for use and is plenty fast as the most powerful supercomputer in the United States that is open for scientific computing. Coming in at number two on the most recent list of Top500 Supercomputers after being number 13 a year ago, such a move, according to Dr. Jack Dongarra, one of the list’s maintainers, “…reflects the fact that more and more researchers are turning to high-performance computing as a method to address pressing scientific questions” (a nod to the Knoxville News Sentinel for the quote). As part of ORNL’s Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program, Jaguar is just one of several supercomputers that will serve the likes of organizations like Corning, Boeing, Dreamworks Animation, Proctor and Gamble as well as academic institutions such as Auburn University, University of Michigan and others.

Convergence, convergence, convergence

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Why does that word keep ringing in my head? As the day has arrived for the retail distribution of the Apple iPhone, I can’t help but think that this newest innovation in convergence is just a small drop in the bucket (well, not financially) for what lies ahead and that it’s not necessarily a good thing. I read a journal article this morning titled Let Them Eat Laptops: The Limits of Technicism from the International Journal of Communication that discusses the diffusion of innovation (many of you may be familiar with the social science theory of the same name by Everett Rogers - btw, I’m a “laggard” in his diffusion terms). And I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Is such convergence and diffusion destroying our ability to really communicate with each other?” Are such tools really good for us in the long run?

IT in the future

Monday, January 9th, 2006

Whether or not you’re a fan of Ray Kurzweil, he has made some interesting predictions for the future of IT in this article from Computerworld. As a self-proclaimed futurist, Kurzweil is no stranger to making bold predictions. In this article he states that

[In the late 2040s], one cubic inch of nanotube circuitry will be 100 million times more powerful than the human brain.

In a 1999 article titled “When Machines Think” published by Maclean’s, Kurzweil said

By 2019, a $1,000 computer will match the processing power of the human brain–about 20-million-billion calculations per second.

You do the math. Accurate or not, these predictions are pretty telling about the evolution of computing power.

IBM slows light for emerging chip

Thursday, November 3rd, 2005

The title–with a healthy “Holy Cow!” thrown in there–probably says enough.

ZDNet reports.

The article is in Nature for those with access.

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