High-Performance Computing

If We Only Had a Simulated Brain

Neuroscientists at the University of Waterloo’s Computation Neuroscience Research Group (CNRG) have built the world’s largest functional model of the human brain. The Spaun (Semantic Pointer Architecture Unified Network) simulated brain has been touted as the most complex computer-generated version of grey matter ever. It can learn, remember, and recognize items, and even write down numeric sequences using its robotic arm. Continue reading

Google, NASA Back D-Wave Quantum Computer

In March, Engineering on the Edge covered Lockheed Martin’s investment into the D-Wave quantum computer. At the time, although Lockheed Martin seemed impressed with the system, the verdict was still out on how much faster (if at all) D-Wave’s machine was compared to conventional computers.

Since then, an independent study has confirmed that the quantum computer is as fast, or faster, than other computers. Google and NASA were intrigued enough by the results to partner in order to start an artificial intelligence (AI) lab at NASA’s Advanced Supercomputing Facility at the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. Continue reading

Data Centers Head Underground

Data centers struggle with a number of ongoing challenges, including finding space to hold massive banks of servers, and finding economical ways to keep things cool. Planners in space-strapped Hong Kong hope to a take a new approach when it comes to addressing the space issue: put new data centers in underground caves.

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Lockheed Martin Invests in Quantum Computing

It seems almost a certainty that the next generation of computers will use quantum mechanics for processing power. In place of zeros and ones, quantum mechanics offer zeros that are sometimes zeros, and sometimes ones. A single quantum computer could speed through problems that currently require entire data centers to solve, reducing operating costs by the bucket.

Canadian quantum computing company D-Wave sold this vision of the future to Lockheed Martin in May of 2011, in the form of a single quantum computer. It appears as though Lockheed Martin was impressed with the result. The company has moved to commercialize the system and integrate the computer into business operations. Continue reading

Italian Supercomputer Sets Efficiency Record

When it comes to measuring the performance of a supercomputer, we tend to focus on speed. But as these systems run hotter, and energy gets more expensive, we also have to focus on efficiency. Lucky for us, the companies that design these massive systems are already doing that.

Case in point: The Eurora supercomputer at the Cineca supercomputing facility in Bologna, Italy, has set a new record for data center energy efficiency. According to Eurotech, the company that built the system, it reached 3,150 megaflops per watt of sustained (Linpack) performance. That’s 26% higher than the top system on the Green500 list. (The current top-rated supercomputer is the The National Institute for Computational Sciences’ Beacon system.)

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