IBM's fastest computer yet is still pretty dumb
Brute force is great - today IBM announced that it had won a $290m contract with the US military to develop, amongst others, ASCI Purple. ASCI Purple:
"... is expected to have 196 interconnected 64-processor servers, making a total of 12,544 Power5 chips. It will come with 50 terabytes of memory--about 20,000 times as much as a PC. The supercomputer also will have IBM disk storage arrays holding 2 petabytes, or a quadrillion bytes, of data--about 50,000 times the capacity of a PC." [more]
The Times reports that, in terms of sheer performance and number of calculations per second, ASCI Purple is roughly equivalent to a human brain (see also information processing in the human body). Ray Kurzweil points out that thanks to the law of accelerating returns, we can reasonably expect something in the hundreds of petaflop range for around $1,000 by 2032.
ASCI Purple clocks in at the 100 teraflop mark, BlueGene/L in at the 360 teraflop mark (what are all these flops?). Of course, we're going to have to figure out how to use all that processing power--I'm of the opinion that anyone who thinks the singularity is a hardware problem is mistaken - we will obviously have tremendous amounts of processing power. Processing power on its own just doesn't help us in reproducing intelligence, though.
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