Supercomputers [The Computer Chronicles - 1984]

  • Computers that can do 100s of millions of operations per second 

  • Fastest computers in US and Japan 

  • Historically massive parallel architectures 

  • Magnetic fusion experiments at Livermore lab using lots of SCs 

    • Octopus network 

    • Lots of partial differential equations 

  • CRAY is one of the fastest commercially available 

  • Nuclear weapon design and analysis at Livermore 

  • Japan’s supercomputers heralded a new generation of speed and sophistication 

  • Vectorized compilers had to be built

    • Different than scalar computation 

    • Algorithms needed to be redesigned 

  • Commercial applications? 

    • Petroleum ; not clear what the goal is yet, but lots of simulations + exploration

    • Automobile industry; high-dimension simulations ; profitability analysis 

  • Grace Hopper nanosecond 

  • Speed of light is the fundamental limitation on computing


  • Hitachi was building SCs 

    • Part of public/private partnership to produce 10X faster super computer

  • “Science City” 60 miles north of Tokyo 

  • Very cold chip environments required 

  • Bit of an arms race mentality 

    • Fujitsu compiler looked really good, to Livermore 

  • Defense / dominance perspective

  • There’s material risk to losing that dominance in America 

    • Not as many visible super computer companies in America as you’d think