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New trends revive supercomputing industry

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Although grid computing - which links disparate machines so that they can function as a distributed supercomputer - has become an increasingly popular focus of high-performance-computing research, the traditional supercomputing industry has languished until recently. This occurred largely because the easing of the Cold War in the early 1990s reduced government use of and spending on supercomputer technology. However, the industry is now reviving because of the development of low-cost supercomputer clusters that use commodity chips. Clusters of commodity computers linked by highspeed interconnect technologies, such as InfiniBand, have put supercomputers within reach of new users. Meanwhile, longtime supercomputer vendors like Cray are making a comeback with systems based on vector units, powerful CPUs dedicated to floating-point and matrix calculations. Vector machines satisfy the demand by governments and large industries for supercomputers that can conduct complex tasks such as nuclear-weapons simulations, pharmaceutical drug modeling, mining of large data sets, and geological analysis to find oil deposits.

Published in:

Computer  (Volume:37 ,  Issue: 2 )

Date of Publication:

Feb 2004

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