Computational Demand: Not So Fast

February 19, 2016

Analytics, Big Data, and smart software. The computer systems today can handle the load.

The death of Moore’s Law; that is, the drive to make chips ever more capable is dead. I just learned this. See “Moore’s Law Really Is Dead This Time.” If that is the case, too bad for some computations.

With the rise of mobile and the cloud, who worries about doing complex calculations?

As it turns out, some researchers do. Navigate to “New Finding May Explain Heat Loss in Fusion Reactors.”

Here’s the passage that underscores the need to innovate in computational systems:

it requires prodigious amounts of computer time to run simulations that encompass such widely disparate scales, explains Howard, who is the lead author on the paper detailing these simulations. Accomplishing each simulation required 15 million hours of computation, carried out by 17,000 processors over a period of 37 days at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center — making this team the biggest user of that facility for the year. Using an ordinary MacBook Pro to run the full set of six simulations that the team carried out…would have taken 3,000 years.

The next time you buy into the marketing baloney, keep in mind the analyses which require computational horsepower. Figuring out who bought what brand of candy on Valentine’s Day is different from performing other types of analyses.

Stephen E Arnold, February 19, 2016


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