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Researcher Discusses iPod Supercomputer

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the melts-in-your-hand-not-in-your-rack dept.

Handhelds 108

schliz writes to mention that in a recent interview with ITNews researcher John Shalf explained the purpose and some of the technical details of the newly-announced "iPod supercomputer." "Microprocessors from portable electronics like iPods could yield low-cost, low-power supercomputers for specialized scientific applications, according to computer scientist John Shalf. Along with a research team from the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Shalf is designing a supercomputer based on low-power embedded microprocessors, which has the sole purpose of improving global climate change predictions."

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sure, this is how it starts (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23352946)

But sooner or later, they come after you claiming you haven't legally purchased your global climate change predictions, or that you've been sharing them with your friends online.

Re:sure, this is how it starts (2, Funny)

Peet42 (904274) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353756)

"We're sorry, we can only authorise you to share this data with four other nodes. Have a nice day."

Re:sure, this is how it starts (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 6 years ago | (#23354984)

"We're sorry, we can only authorise you to share this data with four other nodes. Have a nice day."
I think you're confusing this with the Zune super computer... and it doesn't "share" it "squirts [portableplanet.co.uk] "

Re:sure, this is how it starts (3, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 6 years ago | (#23360626)

REDMOND, Seattle, Wednesday (UNN Technoporn) -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer today announced a new era at the Seattle software company, announcing their entry six^Wnine^Wtwelve months hence into the cell phone market with the exciting new Zune Z-Phone, to finally get the company properly into the rapidly changing digital media landscape.

Ballmer, speaking to a group of trained-monkey analysts and cynical bloggers at the company headquarters today, unveiled mockups^Wprototypes of the Z-Phone, which combines the Zune music player (with wifi for "squirting" songs), a CDMA cell phone, a PDA, an eight gigabyte hard disk, a camera, a laser pointer and a bottle opener into one semi-portable device. It will also allow you to "squirt" music to and from your Windows Vista Service Pack 1^W2 Media Center computer.

The product underscores the shift the company has attempted to make in recent years from an office supply company to a consumer electronics darling as it aims not to become utterly obsolete in the digital future. "And even Linux fanboys admit our hardware is pretty nice," Ballmer said before the somewhat sullen and cynical crowd. "It's definitely the best music player we've ever made."

Ballmer called the Z-Phone a revolutionary device that will leapfrog current technology. He said the company expects to sell about 100 million of them next year. "Maybe two hundred million. This is so the coolest music player ever." Unlike the MP3 player market, which the iPod has dominated even with the entrance of Microsoft's Zune two months ago, the cell phone market is much more fragmented. "There is not one device that everyone buys," said completely independent analyst Rob Enderle, "but this fabulous device should trounce all comers. I've ordered three already in anticipation."

Weighing in at only 15 ounces (425 grams), with a 5-inch 640-by-480 pixel screen, the $498 (with three-year $80/month contract) Z-Phone, a rebadged version of the LG Smart Display from 2003 with new firmware, looks like a Classic Brown Zune (to come in mission, chocolate, corduroy and meconium) with a phone touchpad in place of its imitation scroll wheel. It runs Windows Mobile, Pocket Internet Explorer, Pocket Microsoft Office, Pocket Solitaire and Pocket Pool. MSN will supply e-mail, mapping, search and other Internet services to the Z-Phone. It also features an amazing 1.3 megapixel (300,000 pixels interpolated) black and white camera. Battery life is estimated at up to four hours in Microsoft tests.

To better work with its content partners and ensure that you, the user, can rest safe in the knowledge that the artists and their representatives have been paid properly for all their hard work, Microsoft has limited "squirtable" songs to encrypted WMA files purchased from the Zune Music Store, which can be listened to three times or within three days before automatically being deleted from both the Z-Phone and the Media Center computer. Songs may also be "squirted" between two Z-Phones (though not the original Zune) if both are registered with Microsoft as being linked to that installation of Media Center. Users are advised to purchase Microsoft Zune Secure Headphones ($129), which encrypt the signal between the Z-Phone and your ears, as playback quality is degraded on conventional "analog hole" earphones or when playing back unencrypted MP3 files. Phone calls may be made to or received from any number on the network carrier you bought the Z-Phone from, with only a 99-cent charge for humming a song to someone you call or are called by on the phone or ten cents per use of the camera, laser pointer or bottle opener. Microsoft will also pay $20 from each Z-Phone sold to Universal Music. In addition to the ability to "squirt" songs, the user may "squirt" his calls, which are stored on Microsoft Zune Live servers and cost $40 per month to access.

In other news, Ballmer said that Microsoft had reached over 600 music downloads since introducing its Zune Music Store, selling over 70 songs a month. To keep those numbers rising, Ballmer announced a new partnership with Warner Music Group to offer their music on the Zune Music Store at the discounted price of 97 cents instead of 99 cents. "Bill and I have invited Edgar Bronfmann, Jr. from Warner to join the Microsoft board of directors. We feel he embodies the sort of natural business talent we need at Microsoft."

"This is a day I've been looking forward to for thirty years," Ballmer said. He wrapped up the keynote with a live performance by Milli Vanilli. "I didn't sleep a wink last night. I was so excited about today. Join the 'social'!"

Re:sure, this is how it starts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23362404)

"the sole purpose of improving global climate change predictions."
Do they mean- improving the 'predictions' so that they are supplied with endless FUNDING for this massive fraud?

I wonder if the 'experts' could possibly be biased at all... let me see...

1) Predict 'global warming' caused by man = receive huge research funding and a job for life.
or
2) Tell the truth and say there's no 'global warming' = less funding and may have to find real job...

Oblig. misleading title (4, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#23352952)

From the article:

"Using the embedded microprocessor technology used in mobile phones, iPods and other consumer electronic devices, the boffins propose a cost-effective machine for running complex computational models."

In other words, all be damned if they decide to implement this monstrosity using actual iPods when they could use their talent to design and build greater efficiency through Spice/HDL, manufactured boards, and a pick-and-place.

Gee, A mesh of dedicated machines, hardcoded for more efficiency than a cluster of bloated pc's designed for MS office is actually more efficient? Geddouttahere!

[/sarcastic rant]

Re:Oblig. misleading title (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23352998)

Using the embedded microprocessor technology used in mobile phones...

Beware the roaming charges, I heard those are a real bitch.

Re:Oblig. misleading title (5, Informative)

TimCapulet (954269) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353128)

Of course. iPods have nothing to do with this article at all. A less misleading title would be "Researcher Discusses Microprocessor Supercomputer". The word "iPod" is only there as an eye-catcher.

Re:Oblig. misleading title (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23353172)

Of course. iPods have nothing to do with this article at all. A less misleading title would be "Researcher Discusses Microprocessor Supercomputer".

The word "iPod" is only there as an eye-catcher.
But can you imagine a beowulf cluster of iPods...?

Re:Oblig. misleading title (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23353686)

Actually, the fact that they are building supercomputers out of iPod's is yet another example of how Apple has re-invented computing itself. Once again, Apple is at the forefront of setting the standard for technology. It is just too bad that there are so many knee-jerk anti-Apple zealots like yourself who hate the company simply because you are jealous of its success.

Re:Oblig. misleading title (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 6 years ago | (#23354934)

Nice troll.

Well-written, well thought-out.

Re:Oblig. misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23355246)

Being an eye-catcher that gets regular folk to look at the fact that the single "window" computer they see is not all it's cracked up to be. Double-plus good?

Re:Oblig. misleading title (4, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353298)

You're really dragging down my imagining of a Beowulf cluster of iPods.

Re:Oblig. misleading title (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 6 years ago | (#23354908)

The parents sig is correct

I was hoping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23356450)

I was hoping we could call it a clusterPod.

Re:Oblig. misleading title (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358212)

my imagining of a Beowulf cluster of iPods.
Otherwise known as a college campus.

Re:Oblig. misleading title (1)

CloudyPrison (821861) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353498)

Many boffins died to bring us these Ipods.

Re:Oblig. misleading title (2, Interesting)

Xiaran (836924) | more than 6 years ago | (#23354184)

This makes me wonder... could a mobile phone company sell mesh/grid computing power? Lets say you have a special contract with the telco where for a cheaper plan they have the right to download data and crunch it when your phone is not in use.

Re:Oblig. misleading title (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#23354496)

How do you know that they don't do that already? ;)

Re:Oblig. misleading title (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 6 years ago | (#23361248)

It would kill the user's battery life.

Re:Oblig. misleading title (1)

Xiaran (836924) | more than 6 years ago | (#23362888)

Yeah I agree with that... but you could always have a scheme where say the software switches off if the battery gets down to 50% for example. For the end user it would be an option of sacrificing features such as battery life versus price. Or maybe it only switches on when the phone is plugged into a charger.

Re:Oblig. misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23354464)

...the boffins propose a cost-effective machine for running complex computational models.
Many boffins died to deliver us this information.

iPhone (3, Insightful)

Philomathie (937829) | more than 6 years ago | (#23352966)

Excuse me if I'm wrong, but would this not be more specifically a mobile microprocessor supercomputer than an iPhone supercomputer? I mean, its not as if only the iPhone uses mobile processors.

Re:iPhone (3, Funny)

Philomathie (937829) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353002)

Hahah, oh dear I misread the summary, this is about iPod microprocessors not iPhone microprocessors... excuse me I am quite drunk :P I will see you all in another life, when we are all cats!

Re:iPhone (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23353214)

I'm already a cat, you insensitive clod!

Re:iPhone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23353750)

I just had to bump the parent.

sure this is how it starts, (0, Redundant)

thermian (1267986) | more than 6 years ago | (#23352968)

but eventually they come after you saying you haven't legally purchased your global climate predictions, or that you're sharing them with your friends online

how many of those 200 petaflops... (1)

pointbeing (701902) | more than 6 years ago | (#23352970)

...will be devoted to DRM?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Re:how many of those 200 petaflops... (5, Funny)

Phyrexicaid (1176935) | more than 6 years ago | (#23352996)

It'll be devoted to breaking DRM, the irony will be delicious.

Re:how many of those 200 petaflops... (1)

CelticWhisper (601755) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353160)

Yes. Like bacon.

Re:how many of those 200 petaflops... (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353804)

Shakespeare, you insensitive clod.

Re:how many of those 200 petaflops... (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353788)

For some reason, I misread that as: ..will be devoted to RMS?

Image a ... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23353032)

Beowulf cluster of ...I for one welcome our iPod overl....in Soviet Russia, iPods ....does it run....

Please stop hitting me!

Re:Image a ... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353374)

Dear AC,

please post the exact same thing in every thread (preferably first post), so that other ACs can't write that in dozens of replies.

Signed,
almost everyone who reads ./

Re:Image a ... (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353416)

thanks for giving the AC's a loophole so they only have ./ instead of /.

Re:Image a ... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 6 years ago | (#23354148)

Note to self: do not post before breakfast.

Sorry to all slashdoters and dotslashers. :p

Re:Image a ... (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353430)

This "Laughing at memes" meta meme is not funny anymore either.

Re:Image a ... (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 6 years ago | (#23356112)

You must be new here.

Hey, c'mon, he is new here, relatively.

Oh, I get it. (3, Funny)

abolitiontheory (1138999) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353470)

1. collect old, broken iPods. 2. assemble iGod. 3. profit.

Re:Image a ... (1)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353678)

A beowulf cluster of Linux-based, Soviet iPods that force humans to compute?

Please stop hitting me!
Some people get off on pain. ;)

Re:Image a ... (1)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357002)

I think iPod is a pretty cool guy. eh clusters and doesn't afraid of anything.

Let's Do This (1)

His Shadow (689816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353056)

Send this article to that Jonathan Zittrain idiot who thinks that putting the web in the hands of everyone everywhere is a failure of technology and will stifle innovation.

no wonder.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23353124)

with technology like this powering climate change research, its no wonder you have so many people who don't believe in the global warming theory!
low power... HAH!

It's about the bandwidth, not the MIPS (4, Interesting)

morcheeba (260908) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353156)

There's a famous quote about supercomputers that says that supercomputers are really good memory systems, with a bit of CPU tacked on. The hard part isn't adding more MIPS -- we've done that with the massively parallel connection machine -- or even increasing speed. It's about shuttling the data around the computer efficiently so that all ALU's are constantly fed. During the cold war, Control Data had a supercomputer that came in two variants -- one for domestic use, one for export. The difference between them? Same ALU speed, but the domestic one had a scatter/gather memory access capability that sped up big matrix operations.

Re:It's about the bandwidth, not the MIPS (3, Informative)

pablomme (1270790) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353900)

That depends on the application. For embarrassingly-parallel tasks [wikipedia.org] , such as some weather prediction methods, it's all about the processing power.

I do fairly-embarrassingly-parallel stochastic electronic structure simulations [wikipedia.org] , and most of the time (except during set-up) I wouldn't care if the nodes were interconnected using dial-up modems. What matters in this case is having powerful and/or plentiful CPUs.

self-fulfilling prophecy (5, Funny)

fpgaprogrammer (1086859) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353158)

The observer effect: the more energy we consume studying the effect of energy consumption on climate change, the more we'll have to incorporate this factor into our models.

Positive feedback: if the results of these studies are striking enough to merit funding for more research, we'll no doubt consume even more energy to determine the effects of energy consumption on climate change.

Self-fulfilling prophecy: if this positive feedback between funding for climate change research and supercomputing energy consumption is not counteracted by efforts to reduce supercomputing power consumption for climate change research then we're damning ourselves by studying it.

Re:self-fulfilling prophecy (1)

qualidafial (967876) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353772)

The observer effect: the more energy we consume studying the effect of energy consumption on climate change, the more we'll have to incorporate this factor into our models.
Conversely, if we ignore the problem, eventually it will go away.

Re:self-fulfilling prophecy (2, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#23354388)

Well, they said they're trying to increase the accuracy of global warming predictions. I'd think that if that's what they wanted, using low power processors is exactly the wrong idea. I say use the least efficient, highest-power-sucking processors they can find, and guarantee that their results are accurate. "Global warming is a sure thing! And it's centered around our data center..."

Gotta... (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353176)

Is that a supercomputer in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

So, *@home for iPods then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23353208)

How many people are going to happily use valuable mA/h to search for alien communications etc?

Can you imagine (obligatory) (0, Redundant)

bornyesterday (888994) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353228)

A beowulf cluster of iPods?

facepalm (4, Insightful)

blhack (921171) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353260)

What the hell does this have to do with ipods? They're building a supercomputer out of low-power MIPS procs..

embedded processors were, believe it or not, NOT invented by apple. I don't know if its true or not (i doubt it) but I've also heard that there were portable electronics BEFORE the ipod.

This is really cool, but slashot, come-on...most of us here are geeks, we don't need to have the word "ipod" tacked onto the end to indicate that we're talking about something small.

Re:facepalm (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23353426)

Well, I guess non-technical people (those that talk about tubes, etc), need to call MP3 Players = iPods, Processor inside mediaplayer = iPods, video recordings = PodCasts, Streaming video = Podcast to sort of understand what they are talking about.

Someone trying to sound interesting: Yeah! we could use all those iPods to make a huge network of podcast transmissions! It could be called iNet!
Idiot listening: Oh.. yeah.. I know what an iPod is, I even think I know what a podcast is! Apple is the best! They rule the world!

Re:facepalm (2, Insightful)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353544)

Better yet, why do they have to talk about iPods and not cellphones. There are plenty more cellphones in the world than iPods, all of them, connected to networks. Most of them, running already Java applications. The platform is already there.

BlueGene/QCDOC vs this? (4, Interesting)

Beale (676138) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353302)

BlueGenes, and their predecessor, QCDOC [wikipedia.org] supercomputers, already use slightly modified low-power embedded system chips. How is this any different?

Re:BlueGene/QCDOC vs this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23353860)

And previously: QCDSP used Texas Instruments DSP chips (http://www.physics.columbia.edu/~cqft/qcdsp/qcdsp_hdw.htm
)

There are also supercomputers being designed around the Cell from your PlayStations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Roadrunner) that is not even so 'special purpose'. Then there are the Grape accelerators, your special spin-glass simulators etc. People have been building lower cost specialized computers for ages.

Re:BlueGene/QCDOC vs this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23358348)

They said iPod, so now its trendy!

Climate change predictions (1)

qoncept (599709) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353322)

My "global climate change prediction", sans iPod:
HOT

Re:Climate change predictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23353356)

They'll have to adjust for the body temp of the person holding the "device", unless he/she has assumed room temperature.

Re:Climate change predictions (1)

coresnake (1215632) | more than 6 years ago | (#23356188)

Moderate or good?

Re:Climate change predictions (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#23358226)

My "global climate change prediction", sans iPod:

HOT
With a chance of wet.

its about time we had a climate model (4, Funny)

museumpeace (735109) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353336)

that could predict global warming without first causing it.

translation... (2, Funny)

cpotoso (606303) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353348)

I am just making up a good excuse to buy 100 ipods using some grant money (I'll use most for "research" and have some spares---which in the meantime I can use: one for me, one for wifey, one for daughter, ah! and lets not forget our nice nephew... he said he'd mow the lawn a few times for free too). Pathetic.

a slight change (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353370)

Well then hopefully they'll factor in the amount of CO2 given off from generating the electricity to run these processors. Just because they're more power efficient doesn't mean they run on magic. This is like taking a bus ride across the country to protest all the CO2 given off by vehicles.

Re:a slight change (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 6 years ago | (#23354904)

Not to forget the CO2 given off by their bodies and the bodies of the animals whose meat they might eat.

controls (1)

abolitiontheory (1138999) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353396)

Man, operating that thing with the click-wheel is going to be a bitch.

Worse than iPod, boffins in the title (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353472)

The last time I was called a "boffin" was by a Reme sergeant in 1982. I remember it well. The sergeant's precise words were "You, Sir, are quite sensible for a boffin" and I asked if I put it on my cv would he sign it?

Onto the serious bit. This proposal is basically a reinvention of the Transputer, lots of little blobs with cpu, memory, and fast communication links. Is this because:

  • [ ]It's now possible to write software to run on massively parallel machines effectively
  • [ ]The idea just keeps getting reinvented and abandoned because it's difficult to keep all the connectors working
  • [ ]Embedded processors today are as powerful as small supercomputers were twenty years ago, whereas desktop and server CPUs haven't scaled up as much in relative terms
  • [ ]Someone just wants to boast about how many simultaneous processes they can run
  • [ ]Someone just had a big cancelled order for embedded CPUs and they were cheap

Very special-purpose supercomputer (1)

steveha (103154) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353548)

This reminded me of blade servers [wikipedia.org] . I wondered why they didn't just order a bunch of blades with RAM and CPU only.

I read the article, and they are planning to have special CPU chips fabbed: CPUs tailored specifically to the needs of climate modeling. I guess this will provide the lowest possible operational cost--the least electrical consumption and heat dissipation possible to solve their problem.

Quote from John Shalf:

We have something that automatically tunes the software after we make a hardware change, then we benchmark it, measure how much power it takes, then we change the hardware again. We keep on iterating to come up with the optimal hardware and software solution for power.

Given how many nodes they need, optimizing for lowest operational cost probably makes sense. But calling it an "iPod Supercomputer" is pretty egregious, even by the standards of pop tech journalism.

steveha

Re:Very special-purpose supercomputer (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353832)

So... they're trying to solve the problem while being as small a contributor to the problem as possible. Makes sense to me.

Re:Very special-purpose supercomputer (1)

drspliff (652992) | more than 6 years ago | (#23354094)

The BlueGene series of super-computers follow this model - although less specific to climate modeling.

iirc they have paired PowerPC chips with a floating point accelerator as processing nodes, with i/o nodes connected via some sort of bus - something like 16 or 32 processing units/notes per board, with a handful of i/o nodes providing connectivity to storage & i/o layers.

Much higher density than blade servers, but the ram/cpu only blade server idea is still pretty popular; at a previous company I worked for we were considering having them net-boot Linux for the cpu-intensive tasks (call processing, audio transcoding etc.) - however I never got the idea to hold ground due to the management climate there :(

It's definitely the way to go through, where little or no local storage is needed or for any cpu bound task.

Re:Very special-purpose supercomputer (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 6 years ago | (#23354954)

Oh, come on. It's just a very minor difference between "ASIC" and "iPod". It surely was just a typo.

c'mon! I want CloudFormation@home (1)

P Lucky (1113129) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353560)

my iPod is wasting valuable cpu cycles that could be saving the world!

Re:c'mon! I want CloudFormation@home (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353936)

That would be CloudFormation@hand wouldn't it?

Random (1)

Harold Halloway (1047486) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353980)

Well at least the shuffle play might be truly random.

Want to make good use of electricity? (1)

robi5 (1261542) | more than 6 years ago | (#23353982)

Outlaw all electric heaters that heat using a resistance rather than microprocessors. Make heaters work with a WAN connection only.

Crap (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23353988)

Yeah, 32 bit ARM processors that probably use soft float (soft float is a guess!) are the way forward in super computing. You better believe it, Ripley.

Dear President-VICE Richard B. Cheney: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23354298)



For the sum of Euro 1,000,000,000,000, I, Kilgore Trout,
  will NOT sell my iPod supercomputer to the Ragheads [wikipedia.org] .

Cordially,
Kilgore Trout

Cause or Effect (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#23354758)

Of course by the time you get enough low-power processors running to solve the the problem you'll be a major contributor to climate change yourself.

sure, what's next? (1)

sloth jr (88200) | more than 6 years ago | (#23354854)

A RAID array of zip drives?

Re:sure, what's next? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#23355052)

Too high-tech. A RAID array of floppies [8k.com] sounds more likely.

Low Power multi-processing (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23354886)

Steve Circia did that in the 80's with a bunch of 8051's.

Funny how all we ever do now is run in circles, where is the REAL innovation?

Re:Low Power multi-processing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23358652)

All right! "Low-power supercomputers," isn't that a contradiction in terms?

Coming soon to a store near you:

* Low-resolution HDTVs
* Low-fi surround-sound stereos
* Low-calorie double cheezburgers

(or did they mean "low-power" as in fewer watts? hmmmm... guess I'll have to RTFA)

Re:Low Power multi-processing (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23360920)

Not if you are talking power = energy and not processing power.

Well, at least he wants to use such as iPods (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23354922)

Can you imagine if they used Zunes? All that squirting and then dying after 3 days or whatever it is as a limit. Lame minds have boggled over this...

Riiight (2, Informative)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#23354998)

Not just the title is misleading but the idea associated with it. Last time I checked (ok, that was a while ago), iPods came with ARM7 cores clocked at 80 MHz. Thing is, these CPUs don't have a floating point unit, so unless they write they weather simulators in fixed point arithmetic (lol, right) or go ahead with software floating point emulation (which would slow things down several times) they're not going to use these, they'd rather use more sophisticated stuff like ARM11s or Cortex A8s.

Re:Riiight (1)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 6 years ago | (#23356274)

The ARM7s are RISC CPUs, they do only a few instructions very fast and efficiently. That means that if you want an FPU you include one in software and if you don't then you also don't have to pay for one or have to power one saving you a pack of cash.

Re:Riiight (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#23356480)

Yeah and the software FPU is awfully slow, which was my point.

Re:Riiight (1)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 6 years ago | (#23356894)

Really? And why is that? I can't think of any reason for a software FPU to be tremendously slower, sure there's a bit more overhead but on the other hand a RISC processor will typically execute instructions far faster then a CISC. (faster in this case referring to the number of cycles needed to complete an instruction rather then the amount of actual time needed)

Re:Riiight (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#23357682)

Well, we the people who develop for the GP2X (a handheld console with an ARM920T core) avoid floats because -msoft-float is so slow. Can't tell you why, only can tell you it is.

help, it's got a hold of me, and won't let go! (1)

sloth jr (88200) | more than 6 years ago | (#23355034)

Okay, so this should probably be on halfbakery.com, but - after my initial non-reading of the article, and my assumption that this had nothing to do with iPods, and my scoffing of the notion of a supercomputer of iPods... hmmmmmmmmm...

So just for the Friday afternoon fantasy's sake, I am envisioning a series of flat grids of iPods, communicating through their dock adapter. More like discrete workers - here's a work unit, there's your output, etc. Built in UPS (battery), ability to pause a simulation and move individual worker units in and out of the grid...

I know it's wildly impractical and couldn't solve many problems at all that couldn't be solved through other clustering approaches... but the idea just has me.... help.

Cell Processor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23355072)

Most likely the iPhone or iPod wont go anywhere for a small supercomputer. I bet the Cell processor will take over.

Shaft! Can you dig it? (1)

captainjamie (956435) | more than 6 years ago | (#23355212)

Did anyone else read that and see John Shaft [imdb.com] instead of John Shalf?

Who's the computer scientist who's a sex machine to all the chicks? Shalf!
He's a complicated man and no one understands him but his supercomputer based on low-power embedded microprocessors.

This Has Been Done Already (1)

deadline (14171) | more than 6 years ago | (#23355436)

Not to burst any ones funding bubble, but this has been done. Take a look at SiCortex [sicortex.com] . They did it, they are shipping product, and it works quite well. And it runs Linux.

Much more useful then SETI and FOLDING@HOME. (1)

XHIIHIIHX (918333) | more than 6 years ago | (#23355506)

This would be so much more useful and immediately advantageous then these silly SETI and FOLDING@HOME projects that people are running.

I ran both of these for a while, but here's the thing about them, particularly SETI. It makes a lot more sense to do these calculations in 20 years, rather then now. The computing effort required compared to the available world computing power is HUGE, but it won't be nearly as much in 20 years given Moore's law. Why suck up all the electricity now, when what we do for the next 5 years I'll be able to run on my PDA in 20 minutes in 20 years?

Now, on the other hand, there's absolutely no use in predicting the weather in the past. Predicting the weather tomorrow is what is useful, and I'd be a helluva lot more likely to donate my computer to predicting the weather tomorrow then trying to find a signal from aliens that we won't be able to contact for 1000 years. I'm not against aliens and I fully believe that they're out there, but wouldn't someone's technology out there be 20 years more advanced then ours so that they would be able to run these scans 100,000 times as fast as we can today?

Try to THINK people.



Soon on iTunes (1)

feranick (858651) | more than 6 years ago | (#23356432)

The results will be easily available at 99 cents on iTunes. Of course, if it involves video, it will go for 1.99 cents.

A self-fulfilling prophecy! (1)

dirtyhippie (259852) | more than 6 years ago | (#23356544)

I'm not some wackjob who believes global warming doesn't exist, but this strikes me as a great money making endeavor. Hear me out.

1 - Buy lots of expensive computer equipment
2 - Write some software that models climate change, but adds a bit of extra warming each time
3 - Run simulations
4 - Release results.
5 - Clearly, more information is needed on climate change!
6 - Receive new grants. (aka Profit!)
7 - Increase fudge factor, repeat.

For bonus points, let the devices you use be so inefficient (iPhones? c'mon) that you don't even need to fudge your models - the carbon footprint of running the application itself increases global warming for you.

Stop tagging everything 'hardhack' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23356804)

Can we end the tagging beta now that it's completely failed?

I am so tired of this fake science. (1)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 6 years ago | (#23356908)

"Microprocessors from portable electronics like iPods could yield low-cost, low-power supercomputers for specialized scientific applications, according to computer scientist John Shalf. Along with a research team from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Shalf is designing a supercomputer based on low-power embedded microprocessors, which has the sole purpose of improving global climate change predictions."

I'm so fucking tired of the media asserting as fact and perpetuating the myth of existence of the ipod.

Folding@Home is currently at 2 petaflops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23357522)

To develop the model, scientists would need a supercomputer that is 1,000 times more powerful than is available today, the researchers say.

200 petaflops is, in fact, only 100 times what is available today:

http://fah-web.stanford.edu/cgi-bin/main.py?qtype=osstats [stanford.edu]

To get fast climate modelling, I'd suggest releasing a PS3 client using a backend similar to Folding@Home would be a good start. As more and more PS3s are sold, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that Folding@Home will get to 5 petaflops in the next couple of years.

Previously an April 1 Posting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23358320)

How times change! This sounds a lot like an April 1 posting on codeproject.com [codeproject.com] . They claimed they were switching their site infrastructure over to a bunch of Windows CE devices. They even had some funny pictures to go along with the farce. Of course, this time the researchers are talking about using the chips not the pods.
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