Saturday, December 1, 2007

FLOPS as a measure of performance
Today Blue Gene is the world's fastest computer, at 360 TFLOPS. On June 26, 2007, IBM announced the second generation of its top supercomputer, dubbed Blue Gene/P and designed to continuously operate at speeds exceeding one petaflop. When configured to do so, it can reach speeds in excess of three petaflops. In June 2006, a new computer was announced by Japanese research institute RIKEN, the MDGRAPE-3. The computer's performance tops out at one petaflop, over three times faster than the Blue Gene/L. MDGRAPE-3 is not a general purpose computer, which is why it does not appear in the TOP500 list. It has special-purpose pipelines for simulating molecular dynamics. MDGRAPE-3 houses 4,808 custom processors, 64 servers each with 256 dual-core processors, and 37 servers each containing 74 processors, for a total of 40,314 processor cores, compared to the 131,072 needed for the Blue Gene/L. MDGRAPE-3 is able to do many more computations with few chips because of its specialized architecture. The computer is a joint project between Riken, Hitachi, Intel, and NEC subsidiary SGI Japan.
Distributed computing uses the Internet to link personal computers to achieve a similar effect:

The entire BOINC averages 536 TFLOPS.
Intel Corporation has recently unveiled the experimental multi-core POLARIS chip, which achieves 1 TFLOPS at 3.2GHz. The 80-core chip can increase this to 1.8 TFLOPS at 5.6GHz, although the thermal dissipation at this frequency exceeds 260 watts. FLOPSFLOPS Cost of computing

In the Star Trek fictional universe, circa 2364, the android Data was constructed with an initial linear computational speed rated at 60 trillion operations per second, or 60 TOPS (and thereby, potentially 'dating' the series Star Trek: The Next Generation in which he appears); however, he was later able to infinitely exceed this limit by modifying his hardware and software.
In the Star Trek: Voyager series, the main computer reported it processed 575 Trillion operations per nanosecond. This would be 575 ZettaOPS.
In the movie Terminator III, Skynet is said to be operating at 60 teraFLOPS.
In the mass multiplayer online game EVE-Online, the computer systems on starships is rated in teraFLOPS, ranging from 100 teraFLOPS on the smallest sized vessels, to 1.25 petaFLOPS on the largest vessel.

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