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Fri Jan 18, 2013, 03:03 PM

A Supercomputer Fit to Dominate the Cosmos

A Supercomputer Fit to Dominate the Cosmos
Jan 18, 2013 // by Nicole Gugliucci



It may not be self-aware (yet) but this computing monster is ready to take over the world. Well, at least a telescope in Chile.

Say hello to the correlator for the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submilimeter Array, or ALMA. The correlator is the computer that runs at the backend of an array of radio telescopes called an interferometer. It, very basically, combines all the signals of the antennas so that it can function as one single telescope.

The correlator was largely constructed in the building right across from where I did a lot of my graduate work at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Virginia. I used to take any excuse, usually a visiting tour group, to gaze at the supercomputing monstrosity, although they were only working on it in sections. The picture above gives you a better sense of its full size.

Though large (134 million processors) and fast (17 quadrillion operations per second), this computer has just one purpose: to suck in all of the data from ALMA’s 66 dishes and transform it into data that can then be sent to the astronomers to calibrate and analyze. The correlator gives the interferometer its power to see incredibly fine detail and small structures, such as protoplanetary disks and distant star-forming galaxies.

More:
http://news.discovery.com/space/astronomy/a-supercomputer-comes-to-life-in-chile-130117.htm#mkcpgn=rssnws1

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Reply A Supercomputer Fit to Dominate the Cosmos (Original post)
Judi Lynn Jan 2013 OP
mr_hat Jan 2013 #1
longship Jan 2013 #4
longship Jan 2013 #2
ProdigalJunkMail Jan 2013 #7
Fumesucker Jan 2013 #3
TheMadMonk Jan 2013 #10
Jim__ Jan 2013 #5
sakabatou Jan 2013 #6
tama Jan 2013 #8
OneTenthofOnePercent Jan 2013 #9

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 03:11 PM

1. Yeah, yeah.

When it can do my windows, let me know.

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Response to mr_hat (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 03:29 PM

4. Dream on.

The ALMA Correlator runs Real Time Linux.

Windows bloat won't work at that scale.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 03:14 PM

2. Aha!! The Great Hyperbolic Omni-Cognate Neutron Wrangler

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Response to longship (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 07:15 PM

7. nicely done... n/t

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 03:22 PM

3. Paranoia strikes deep

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paranoia_(role-playing_game)

The game's main setting is an immense and futuristic city called Alpha Complex, which is controlled by The Computer, a civil service AI construct (a literal realization of the "Influencing Machine" that some schizophrenics fear). The Computer serves as the game's principal antagonist, and fears a number of threats to its 'perfect' society, such as The Outdoors, mutants, and secret societies (especially Communists). To deal with these threats, The Computer employs Troubleshooters, whose job is to go out, find trouble, and shoot it. Player characters are usually Troubleshooters, although later game supplements have allowed the players to take on other roles.

The player characters frequently receive mission instructions from the Computer that are incomprehensible, self-contradictory, or obviously fatal if adhered to, and side-missions which conflict the main mission. They are issued equipment that is uniformly dangerous, faulty or "experimental" (i.e. almost certainly dangerous and faulty). Additionally, each player character is generally an unregistered mutant and a secret society member, and has a hidden agenda separate from the group's goals, often involving stealing from or killing teammates. Thus, missions often turn into a comedy of errors, as everyone on the team seeks to double-cross everyone else while keeping their own secrets. The game's manual encourages suspicion between players, offering several tips on how to make the gameplay as paranoid as possible.

Every player's character is assigned six clones, known as a "six-pack," which are used to replace the preceding clone upon his or her death. The game lacks a conventional health system; most wounds the player characters can suffer are assumed to be fatal. As a result, Paranoia allows characters to be routinely killed, yet the player can continue instead of leaving the game. This easy spending of clones tends to lead to frequent firefights, gruesome slapstick, and the horrible yet humorous demise of most if not all of the player character's clone family. Additional clones can be purchased if one gains sufficient favour with the Computer.

The Paranoia rulebook is unusual in a number of ways; demonstrating any knowledge of the rules is forbidden, and most of the rulebook is written in an easy, conversational tone that often makes fun of the players and their characters, while occasionally taking digs at other notable role-playing games.

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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 06:57 PM

10. Bouncy bubble beverage anyone? /nt

 

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 03:57 PM

5. 134 million processors and 17 quadrillion operations per second is incredible.

I am curious as to how the cost and effectiveness of this compares to software correlators. Do they currently have software correlators that can handle arrays of this size?

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 04:41 PM

6. They have to have it

Otherwise it'll be tough to sift raw data.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 07:57 PM

8. Dominate the Cosmos?

 

As in, penetrate its deepest secrets?

Wonderful machine no doubt, but, but... no problem with power games of sexual intercourse as long as they are consensual, but once in a while it would be refreshing to see science metaphors of more tender aspects of love-making...

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 03:56 AM

9. yeah, but can it post good benches with 3DMark on Crysis 2? n/t

 

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