California mob tries to create supercomputer
SAN FRANCISCO: Hundreds of technophiles on Saturday wired their computers together in an attempt to generate computing power on a par with the world’s strongest supercomputers.
The experiment organised by researchers at the University of San Francisco was designed to determine whether a gymnasium full of off-the-shelf laptops and desktops networked together can muster enough power to process the most complex research problems. Organizers failed to break into the ranks of the world’s top 500 supercomputers as they had hoped, but said the event, which they called “Flashmob I,” was a success nonetheless.
“Flashmob is about democratizing supercomputing,” said John Witchel, a graduate student at USF who codeveloped the concept. “It’s about giving supercomputing power to the people so that we can decide how we want supercomputers to be used.”
Supercomputers perform highly sophisticated functions, such as predicting weather patterns, modelling biological processes or animating movies. Most are run by government laboratories or big corporations because they are expensive, sometimes costing hundreds of millions of dollars.
Saturday’s flash-mob event was a dry run designed to measure how much computing power could be generated, rather than tackle a specific task. —AP