Archive for April, 2005

Gates on technology crisis

Friday, April 29th, 2005

Bill Gates talked about technology education, the dearth of qualified American scientists and engineers, and the “off-shoring” of some of Microsoft’s R&D jobs to China and India on “Morning Edition” today. Listen to the interview on NPR’s website.

He also told your kids to play X-Box as a part of their “balanced” development. Interactive gaming encourages socialization and organizational skills, you see. Sort of like a game of stickball, only without the stick, or the ball, or the leaving the house.

Revitalize HPC, but do it frugally

Thursday, April 28th, 2005

The House has passed the High-Performance Computing Revitalization Act of 2005, which (to borrow the words of Federal Computer Week) “is supposed to resuscitate federal interest in the field.” The bill requires NSF and DOE to guarantee supercomputer access to U.S. researchers, and puts the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in charge of coordinating federal efforts (currently that’s John Marburger, formerly the head of Brookhaven National Lab). According to FCW, the bill also “asks for better software, standards and training, in addition to hardware.”

The downside? The bill doesn’t include any new funding.

Supercomputer Eye on the Universe

Wednesday, April 27th, 2005

Looks like the Europeans, the Dutch to be precise, have found an interesting use for what Reuters calls the most powerful computer in Europe in terms of sustained performance (27.4 teraflops). According to the article, which I picked up off CNN, the IBM system will:

“…process signals from up to 13 billion light years from earth — as far back in time as the beginnings of the earliest stars and galaxies after the formation of the universe.”

One for the high energy physics crowd

Tuesday, April 26th, 2005

Grids take center stage during the Global Grid Challenge according to PhysOrg.com and reported by Slashdot. Successfully transmitting 500 terabytes of data over a 10 day period, a team of eight major computer centers from the US and Europe joined together to form a global computing infrastructure. The purpose of the Challenge tests is to prepare for the massive amounts of data to be generated and shared via the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN due to come online in 2007. Once in operation, the LHC is supposed to produce 1500 MB of data every second for a decade.

The collaborative success demonstrated by this particular service challenge is a seminal issue for the broader impacts of global cyberinfrastructure. The ability to quickly perform massive calculations is only one part of the big picture. Moving large chunks of data around the globe in a timely manner opens new doors of opportunity.

OSU team proposes new approach to quantum computing

Tuesday, April 26th, 2005

Greg Lafyatis, an associate professor of physics at (The) Ohio State (University), and his team recently published in Physical Review A on a new approach to quantum computing. According to Science News Daily, they:

designed a chip with a top surface of laser light that functions as an array of tiny traps, each of which could potentially hold a single atom. The design could enable quantum data to be read the same way CDs are read today.

Other research teams have created similar arrays, called optical lattices, but those designs present problems that could make them hard to use in practice. Other lattices lock atoms into a multi-layered cube floating in free space. But manipulating atoms in the center of the cube would be difficult. The Ohio State lattice has a more practical design, with a single layer of atoms grounded just above a glass chip. Each atom could be manipulated directly with a single laser beam.

(Hat tip to Slashdot.)

Academic leaders weigh in on computational science

Monday, April 25th, 2005

In an HPC Wire article from April 22nd, Dan Reed, Jack Dongarra, and Ken Kennedy question the direction of the government’s investment strategy for high performance computing and computational science. Noting that there are as many opportunities as ever to utilize high-end computing, the three HPC leaders call for better cohesion and greater vision by the federal agencies charged with investing the nation’s computational research dollars:

High-end computing and cyberinfrastructure are both part of a broad and empowering vision of computing-enabled science; it is not an “either or” situation. Both are central, both are critical, and neither can be sacrificed for the other.

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