Monday, August 21, 2006

Raw, Amazing High Performance Computing

What is the most impressive IT demonstration you've ever seen? Almost everyone has something which springs to mind. Perhaps it was some time ago and has now become the norm, but back then it blew your socks off.

Well, I've just had one of those moments. It was a country mile ahead of the first time I saw ClickTowers on Google Earth. This, my beloved readers, was probably something I will never forget.

This was the next best thing to making time stand still or looking into the future.

Imagine being able to play a piece of music into a microphone. Almost any piece of music. I chose the relatively obscure "Song of Life" by Leftfield on my mobile. Within 5 seconds, the supercomputer had identified the track from its databased catalogue, found the exact position we were listening to and then begun playing the music 5 seconds ahead of where my mobile phone was. Amazing. I must have tried 6 tracks and the system was faultless.

My hosts, who have interests in furthering raw unadulterated computing power, asked for their identity to be kept under wraps. This isn't something they're productising in anyway and don't want the publicity. It's simply a demonstration- a very impressive demonstration. Sadly, I can't see how this power, or concept, can be leveraged into anything useful (besides, Shazam has that covered), but it just goes to show what they mean when they talk about being able to process TeraFLOPS (floating point operations per second) of information. By way of comparison, Wikipedia rates a Pentium4 at a few GigaFLOPS. Also impressive is the database reads that process entailed. My mind is blown, I may post a more balanced view when I've settled down a touch.

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