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The UK's University of Cambridge is looking to host a new center where they'll see experts look into the possible dangers associated with advanced artificial intelligence (AI). Founded by philosophy professor Huw Price, cosmology professor Martin Rees, and Skype co-founder Jann Tallinn.
The University says that its Center for the Study of Existential Risk is set to open on campus sometime next year, and while acknowledging the far-fetched nature of movie-based AI like HAL 9000's rebellion, Price has told the AP that "it seems a reasonable prediction that some time in this or the next century intelligence will escape from the constraints of biology". Adding:
It tends to be regarded as a flakey concern, but given that we don't know how serious the risks are, that we don't know the time scale, dismissing the concerns is dangerous. What we're trying to do is to push it forward in the respectable scientific community.
Microsoft is looking to capture the energy in the gas produced by sewage and harness that otherwise wasted energy for data centers. Microsoft has just gotten approval to test out a new modular data center that will be powered by a biogas fuel cell. The fuel cell will be situated at a sewage plant in Wyoming.
"A person is consuming data and that person's waste is going to power the data center," Microsoft data center researcher Sean Parker told Technology Review. "It's been a mind shift...when we smell that methane at a water treatment plant, we realize we're smelling energy."
Supposedly this isn't just some project designed to make Microsoft appear "green" to the public. They actually seem genuinely interested in being able to co-locate smaller data centers around sources of biogas. This means datacenters could find their way to your local sewage system, farm, or landfill.
The only issue I foresee with locating data centers at farms and possibly other out of the way locations is that getting a fast internet connection to them could be tough. They will definitely need a fiber line, which could delay or increase costs for this new idea. If it proves successful, though, it will deal with all the excess methane being produced and might help fight global warming.
There's a new supercomputer on the block, Titan, and boy is it damn powerful. The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National labs flicked the 'on' switch on Titan, powering up the latest, fastest supercomputer.
Titan sports 299,008 CPU cores, 18,688 GPUs, and over 700 terabytes of memory - wow. Titan is capable of a peak speed of 27 quadrillion calculations per second (petaflops), which is ten times the power of its predecessor, and has now slotted into the spot of the world's fastest supercomputer.
Titan is based on the Cray XK7 system, sporting 18,688 computing nodes, each sporting an AMD Opteron 6274 processor, and NVIDIA Tesla K20 GPU accelerator. NVIDIA's GPUs do most of the computing calculations for simulations, with the Opteron cores managing the GPUs.
Titan takes up 4,352 square feet of floorspace in ORNL's National Center for Computational Sciences. Someone has to say it, and I'll be the first - can it run Crysis? I know people are going to cringe at the thought of the old "can it run Crysis", but I still get a laugh out of it.
Researchers at the University of Southampton have done something that only us mere mortals could only dream of, build a supercomputer from Raspberry Pi's and Lego.
They've called this Iridis-Pi, which is a very small 64-node cluster made from Raspberry Pi's Debian Wheezy distribution, linked through Ethernet. On their lonesome, Raspberry Pi's are not that powerful, but in a cluster with 1TB worth of storage in SD cards, that's another question.
Rackmounting the cluster was done in a very interesting way, where team lead Simon Cox and his son James put the entire array into two towers of Lego. LEGO!!! There are even instructions so you could do this at home if you've got the money for some Raspberry Pi's and some spare Lego around. The entire system cost less than $4,026 or so to make, which is not too bad at all.
IBM has bragging rights at the moment, with the world's fastest server chip clocking in at an incredible 5.5GHz. IBM's new zEnterprise EC12 mainframe cost the company $1 billion in development, and offers 25% more performance courtesy of their hexacore processors.
IBM's zEnterprise EC12 mainframes are available in multiple configurations, with as many as 120 cores available. All models will include transactional execution support, as well as Enhanced-DAT2, allowing 2GB page frames for more efficient utilization of huge quantities of RAM.
Another jewel of the newly-introduced zEnterprise EC12 mainframe is IBM's cryptographic co-processor, Crypto Express4S. It's quite special as its tamper-proof, providing privacy when handling transactions, and other similarly sensitive data. Crypto Express4S also offers multiple security configurations to support the requirements, and needs of bankers and other organizations handling sensitive data. This includes the information on smart passports and ID cards.
The U.S. Department of Energy have granted a two-year, $12.4 million contract for the research and development of exascale computer technology to NVIDIA. Scientists from DoE, and engineers from NVIDIA will work together in order to advance the field and produce an exascale computer that operates at a "reasonable" power level.
The focus of the joint effort will be on developing processor architecture, circuits, memory architecture, high-speed signalling, and programming models. The work done will involve thousands of throughput-optimized cores that will handle most of the heavy lifting, while some latency-optimized cores will do the residual serial computing. Seven DoE laboratories will guide NVIDIA as to what kind of scientific workloads the exascale computer will need to handle.
It was only last week that AMD were granted $12.6 million from the FastForward program for the same exascale research. The future is looking quite green indeed.
AMD has been granted a $12.6 million grant under the FastForward program, where they'll use the funds to research next-generation supercomputing technology. FastForward is part of a joint effort between the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Department of Energy designed to advance research of exascale computers.
Exascale computers are going to open a can of whoop ass against the current supercomputers like Blue Waters, currently installed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that max out at around a thousand trillion operations per second, otherwise known as a petaflop. Exascale is set to process data up to a thousand times faster than current-generation petascale supercomputers. We're talking about some serious power here.
AMD will split the $12.6 million into $9.6 million to fund processor research and will use the remaining $3 million for memory advancements. This can only be good news, as AMD have been struggling for quite a while now. AMD have also previously worked with the U.S. government on supercomputer projects, with Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Jaguar supercomputer being AMD-powered. Upgrades for that system known as Titan, are already under way. AMD have provided nearly 20,000 Opteron processors, worth close to $300,000.
The flick has been switched for the most powerful GPU supercomputer, Emerald, at the Science and Technology Facilities Council's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in Oxfordshire, U.K., the two systems working together "will give businesses and academics unprecedented access to their super-fast processing capability".
The insane amounts of power will allow researchers to run simulations that range from health care to astrophysics. The supercomputer combo will be used to look at the Tamiflu vaccine's effect on swine flu, Square Kilometre Array project data, climate change modelling and 3G/4G communications modelling. The official launch of the e-Infrastructure South Consortium took place at the same time, coinciding with Emerald's unveiling.
Liquid cooling has been becoming more and more mainstream, thanks in part to closed-system water cooling units. IBM didn't want supercomputers left out so they designed a water cooling system for Europe's most powerful supercomputer. However, things become just a bit tougher when you start dealing with 18,000 processors compared to one or two.
The supercomputer sports 18,000 Xeon processors along with 324TB of memory. Both the processors and the memory are liquid cooled in this new system. The genius behind this system is that it cuts down on cooling costs for the supercomputer as well as cutting down on heating costs for the surrounding buildings.
It does this by heating the water to 45*C and then by pumping it through an exchanger which provides heat for the surrounding buildings. This water cooling system can, according to IBM, result in a 40% reduction of power usage which is good for up to 1 million euros. This is just the start of liquid cooling for IBM as they want to put the coolant pathways directly into the chip.
Just when you thought tape was dead, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications is getting ready to build a new storage infrastructure that will include 380 petabytes (PB) of magnetic tape capacity which will be backed up by 25 petabytes of online disk storage made up from 17,000 SATA drives.
The new storage infrastructure is said to be built to support one of the world's most powerful supercomputers, Blue Waters. Blue Waters was commissioned by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and is expected to have a peak performance of 11.5 petaflops. The NCSA says that they're building the system to:
Predict the behavior of complex biological systems, understand how the cosmos evolved after the Big Bang, design new materials at the atomic level, predict the behavior of hurricanes and tornadoes, and simulate complex engineered systems like the power distribution system and airplanes and automobiles.