Thursday, August 03, 2006

Super Computer

A supercomputer is a computer that leads the world in terms of processing capacity and speed of calculation. New York World newspaper in 1929 refers to a large custom-built tabulators IBM made for Columbia University first used the term “Super Computing”. Super Computers introduced in the year 1960s and were designed by Seymour Cray at Control Data Corporation (CDC), and led the market into the 1970s. The term supercomputer itself is rather fluid, and today's supercomputer tends to become tomorrow's also-ran.

Technologies developed for Supercomputers include:
Vector processing
Liquid cooling
Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA)
Striped disks
Parallel file systems

Supercomputers traditionally gained their speed over conventional computers through the use of innovative designs that allow them to perform many tasks in parallel, as well as complex detail engineering. They tend to be specialized for certain types of computation, usually numerical calculations, and perform poorly at more general computing tasks. Their memory hierarchy is very carefully designed to ensure the processor; much of the performance difference between slower computers and supercomputers is due to the memory hierarchy.

Their I/O systems tend to be designed to support high bandwidth, with latency less of an issue, because supercomputers are not used for transaction processing. Supercomputers are used for highly calculation-intensive tasks such as weather forecasting, climate research (including research into global warming), molecular modeling (computing the structures and properties of chemical compounds, biological macromolecules, polymers, and crystals), physical simulations (such as simulation of airplanes in wind tunnels, simulation of the detonation of nuclear weapons, and research into nuclear fusion), cryptanalysis, and the like. Major universities, military agencies and scientific research laboratories are heavy users.

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