Sunday, August 19, 2012

Supercomputing: 16 petaflops, schmetaflops?

Supercomputing advances continue to exponentiate – the world’s best machine (IBM’s Sequoia - BlueGene/Q installed in the U.S. at LLNL) currently has 16 petaflops of raw compute capability.

Figure 1. Data Source: Top 500 Supercomputing Sites

As shown in Figure 1, the curve has been popping – up from 2 to 16 petaflops in just two years! However for all its massivity, supercomputing remains a linear endeavor. While the average contemporary supercomputer has much greater than human-level capability in raw compute power, it cannot think, which is to say pattern-match and respond in new situations, and solve general rather than special-purpose problems.

For the future of intelligence and cognitive computing, the three-way horse race continues between enhancing biological human cognition, reverse-engineering and simulating the human brain in software, and hybrids of these two.

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