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Space Supercomputing Science

All Systems Go For Highest Altitude Supercomputer 36

An anonymous reader writes "One of the most powerful supercomputers in the world has now been fully installed and tested at its remote, high altitude site in the Andes of northern Chile. It's a critical part of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the most elaborate ground-based astronomical telescope in history. The special-purpose ALMA correlator has over 134 million processors and performs up to 17 quadrillion operations per second, a speed comparable to the fastest general-purpose supercomputer in operation today."
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All Systems Go For Highest Altitude Supercomputer

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 21, 2012 @05:53PM (#42364443)

    http://www.haystack.mit.edu/ast/uvlbi/mm/talks/RLacasse_NRAO-ALMA2.pdf

    Bit of details about it. The comment that this is as fast as a general purpose supercomputer is totally out of context. This is doing fast sums and correlations (DSP) using FPGA technology. When a general purpose system is measured in the PetaFlops (ie: Linpack) it is doing much more sophisticated calculations and this really isn't comparing apples to apples at all. A lot of hyperbole in the comment about "performance." No question this is a spectacular piece of engineering and the custom board & FPGA work is very cool, but the LHC has filters and realtime compute facilities that are orders of magnitude more sophisticated than this. (I'm not putting this down, just trying to relate it to something else out there).

  • RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by msauve (701917) on Friday December 21, 2012 @05:56PM (#42364483)
    "At 5000 metres, the air is thin, so twice the normal airflow is necessary to cool the machine, which draws some 140 kilowatts of power."

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