Supercomputers in Our Living Room

Supercomputers in Our Living Room

The first ever thing that comes in our mind after hearing the word ‘supercomputer’ is Speed, Accuracy, Huge, Best, and uttermost importantly, ‘Costly’. Yes, to be honest, supercomputers are bit costly as they are installed with millions of microprocessors and microcontrollers so they can deal with millions and billions of mathematical calculations in less than a Nano second. But it’s unarguable to say that it is costly. So, another question that comes in our mind and sticks,” Is Supercomputer coming in our Living Room?”

The supercomputers were firstly seen in the decade of 1950s or later, when Supercomputers was not just a term. They used to cover room-size space and costed astronomically expensive. But over time and with the advancement of technology, many changes adapted and developed into familiar desktops, mobile devices, tablets which are popularly used today. There’s no doubt these smartphones, laptops, desktops which we use today are powerful and used in our daily life, but they are yet to touch processing capabilities of a supercomputer as they are beneath the starting level of a supercomputer. What we’re comparing off these smartphones and supercomputers is in the speed of calculation. It’s like your smartphone or your laptop is ‘Honda Amaze’ and your supercomputer is ‘F1 Racing car’.

Supercomputers have the capabilities of solving huge, complex problems that a standard device couldn’t even touch in its lifetime. Also, supercomputers are used in a variety of applications like- Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, solving complex problems in Quantum Physics, GPS, Weather Forecasting, beating humans in a Chess game and even infinite examples. These tasks are possible due to the powerful capacity of supercomputers to solve millions of processes in less than a Nano second.

But there’s a common myth among many of the people. Many people believe the supercomputers are room-sized and extremely expensive which is not true at all. Time and technology has changed a lot in these days and thus, the designs, models, prices have also been modified in this duration. To support our statement, let’s take a genuine example, a company names as Adapteva has developed the Parallela platform, a ATM card- sized supercomputer that literally brings the parallel processing capabilities of a supercomputer to your living room. An Intel i750, a commonly known and robust processor processes 7 million calculations per second. The Parallela, can run 90 billion calculations and only costs up to $100 (which is fairly Rs.6000). So, just imagine you could own a supercomputer in just $100 and can process up to 90 million calculations which would be the size of a credit card.

Moore who was a well-known scientist, gave a famous rule of Computer Science in the field of Automata which states that, “the processing power will double every 2years and it will continue to follow up to 50 years, but there will be a saturation point after which no further elongation would be possible”. International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductor predicted that they would see some diminishing returns on processing power at the end of this year.

Well, if you don’t know about the speed of parallel processing-based computers, the fastest supercomputer that exists today run over 10 billion gigaflops which means 10 billion calculations per second. And you would be surprised to know that this supercomputer runs on Ubuntu Linux (kind of Operating System), which is purely compatible access and calculate these tasks much more quickly. Many supercomputers are being developed just to help certain users so they could afford and keep those supercomputers in their houses. A company names, Cycle Computing is developing such a machine which would suit your pockets as well.

The applications of the supercomputers are extremely technical, so it does not mean every user could understand and grab the knowledge of how a supercomputer works as it requires deep and extreme knowledge in this field as well. A software package called GROMACS would let users, “simulate the Newtonian equations of motion up to millions of particles”. Also, if you work in genetics, another supercomputer called BLAST (Basics Local Alignment Search Tool) which would compare, “primary biological sequence information”.

So, the time has gone under which people used to interpret and thought supercomputers were made only for the people who could afford travelling in Airplanes. Now even a farmer or a middle-class person can afford Supercomputers as it is a given proof of Parallela which is costing just in $100. Gone are the days where a supercomputer word was used in a very fascinating way, because now every desk and every home would have a supercomputer by the next 10 years. Technically speaking, Parallela is cheaper than most of the smartphones. Also, it has cleared another doubt where people used to assume a supercomputer would take up room-sized space and they would not have enough space to put that in. So, Supercomputers will be ruling and they’ll be seen soon on every living room for the betterment of people

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