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IBM says the future of supercomputing is the size of a sugar cube

Small boxes are easier to cool, easy to lose
Fri Nov 12 2010, 14:22

BOFFINS AT IBM have seen the future of supercomputing and it is a tiny sugar cube shaped stackable box.

A report at the BBC tells us that scientists at the firm's Zurich research labs are working on the boxes, which they say will be driven by the need to be green more than their power.

Dr Bruno Michel told the BBC that future computer costs will hinge on green credentials rather than speed. "In the past, computers were dominated by hardware costs - 50 years ago you could hold one transistor and it cost a dollar, or a franc," he said adding that now transistor costs were "1/100th of the price of printing a single letter on a page".

So forget hardware costs, said Michel, think about the planet. "In the future, computers will be dominated by energy costs - to run a data centre will cost more than to build it," he said. "In the future, the 'Green 500' will be the important list, where computers are listed according to their efficiency."

In order to save power, computers must conserve heat, he explained upon introducing the IBM Aquasar system, which is small, stackable and water cooled. "We currently have built this Aquasar system that's one rack full of processors," he told the BBC. "We plan that 10 to 15 years from now, we can collapse such a system in to one sugar cube - we're going to have a supercomputer in a sugar cube."

We recommend not keeping the computers anywhere near any tea making facilities. µ



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