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Comment They already co-design the hard-/software (Score 1) 223

Basically, the procurement process for supercomputers is like this: the buyer (e.g. a DOE lab) will ready a portfolio of apps (mostly simulation codes) with a specified target performance. Vendors then bid for how "little" money they'll be able to meet that target performance. And of course the vendors will use the most (cost/power) efficient hardware they can get.

The reason why we're no longer seeing custom built CPUs in the supercomputing arena, but rather COTS chips or just slightly modified versions, is that chip design has become so exceedingly expensive and that the supercomputer market is marginalized by today's mainstream market.

Also, the simulation codes running on these machines generally far outlive most supercomputers. The stereotypical supercomputer simulation code is a Fortran program written 20 years ago, which received constant maintenance in the past years, but no serious rewrite is viable (costs exceed price of hardware). So vendors will look for low-effort ways of tuning these codes for their proposed designs. Sticking with general purpose CPUs is in most cases the most cost efficient way.

Comment Capacity vs. capability (Score 1) 223

So, what you describe is essentially the difference between capacity and capability machines. The national labs have both, as there are use cases for both. But the flagship machines, e.g. Titan at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF), are always capability machines -- built to run full system jobs, jobs that scale tens of or hundreds of thousands of nodes.

Comment Exascale machines are for scientific computing (Score 2, Informative) 223

These Peta/Exascale supercomputers are build for computer simulations (climate change, nuclear weapons stewardship, computational drug design, etc.), not for breaking encryption. That's also one reason no one is using them to mine Bitcoins: they're just not efficient at that job. To compute lots of hashes, dedicated hardware designs (read: ASICS) far outpace "general purpose" supercomputers.

Comment Re:de gustibus non est disputandem (Score 1) 443

and there is really no possible way that anything interesting will result from the conversation

People might inform you of a flavor you have never heard before. And you try it. And it is the best motherfucking ice cream of your life.

Btw, if you go to Italy, look for Grom... it will be the best motherfucking ice cream of your life.

Comment Re:Sounds good to me (Score 4, Interesting) 72

I feel your pain... I left my previous bank because they "improved" the UI with a brain dead design, that required pixel hunting and clicking "next page" until all the records had been displayed for the selected month before being allowed to save as CSV. Btw, the bank I'm talking about is the CGD of Portugal (Caixa Geral de Depositos). Fuck you CGD, please slowly die in a fire.

I made a small script with xdotool to dump all my data before I switched to another bank. It was ugly, but did the job.

Comment Supercomputers already do drug design (Score 1) 57

Computational drug design is already a big topic in supercomputing, although it's much more focused on interactions of individual molecules. That's currently so complex that it's more efficient to build specialized machines (e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A... ).

Comment Re: better idea (Score 1, Insightful) 166

Sure, just as not long ago murder was an alternative to solve personal conflicts. Fortunately, the evolution of society made it a more costly alternative, as in you'll pay with the restriction of your liberty if you choose it.

To solve the problem of war we would need transparency and real accountability for those who command it, and to remove incentives from the war industry. In other words, remove the opportunity Dick Cheney had, when he made a fortune by making Halliburton's stock skyrocket with his crimes in Iraq.

"You need tender loving care once a week - so that I can slap you into shape." - Ellyn Mustard