NEC AND the Tokyo Institute of Technology have developed the technology for a ten-Petaflop supercomputer. The foundation of this beast is a network of optical interconnections between nests of chips. The Japanese government says it could be ready by 2010.
Ten petaflops is something like 10 quadrillion floating point operations per second.
The optically connected chips can talk to each other at 25 gigabits per second, so between them they can calculate at warp factor speeds (there’s no figures available. Depends how many chips are aggregated). That’s a 250 per cent increase on the fastest speed that data can limp along cables.
The prototype converts electrical signals into optical signals using laser diodes, says our man at the Nikkei, and its connector bundles 1,000 fibres together to bring together the worlds most powerful aggregation of neighbouring chips.
Two questions arise. What’s the collective noun for an aggregation of chips? A virtual of chips? A bag? It’s been proved that the best way to bring an entire company together in one room, is to come back from your lunch break with a bag of chips. Forget video conferencing. People you thought had left the company will suddenly materialise.
And secondly, how many of these ten-Petaflop supercomputers will the world need? I reckon five, tops. One for each major continent across the globe. I only know that because a visionary from IBM told me. And that was T.Watson back in 1943. µ