catalan supercomputer

Maybe the inclusion of magic word “Linux” in the announcement calmed them down, but I’m still a bit surprised that neither the opposition nor the wild-eyed crazies of the decentralisation lobby have yet cried foul over the government’s surprise announcement, two weeks before the elections, of a €70M plan to install an IBM one-room 40-teraflop supercomputer at – if the rumours are correct – the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. The two alternatives are:

  • P2P networks. These generate security concerns for stuff like disease research and are less useful in solving problems that are not easily capable of decomposition into component problems, the results of which can be combined at the end, but they’re incredibly cheap.
  • Cluster systems, based on more or less off-the-shelf machines connected by high speed networks. The Japanese, currently at number one on the T500 list, are betting on these being cheaper and more effective, and it’s going to be interesting to discover if there are any non-electoral reasons for the Spanish government’s apparent disagreement.

(Funnily enough, La Vanguardia chose this weekend to announce that it’s running an encyclopaedia promotion. Another institution that doesn’t yet understand networks?)

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