Commodity supercomputing, was: Re: NDAs Re: [Beowulf] Nvidia, cuda, tesla and... where's my double floating point?

Toon Moene toon at
Mon Jun 30 11:20:06 PDT 2008

Jim Lux wrote:

> Yep.  And for good reason.  Even a big DoD job is still tiny in Nvidia's 
> scale of operations. We face this all the time with NASA work.  
> Semiconductor manufacturers have no real reason to produce special 
> purpose or customized versions of their products for space use, because 
> they can sell all they can make to the consumer market. More than once, 
> I've had a phone call along the lines of this:
> "Jim: I'm interested in your new ABC321 part."
> "Rep: Great. I'll just send the NDA over and we can talk about it."
> "Jim: Great, you have my email and my fax # is..."
> "Rep: By the way, what sort of volume are you going to be using?"
> "Jim: Oh, 10-12.."
> "Rep: thousand per week, excellent..."
> "Jim: No, a dozen pieces, total, lifetime buy, or at best maybe every 
> year."
> "Rep: Oh...<dial tone>"
> {Well, to be fair, it's not that bad, they don't hang up on you.. 

Since about a year, it's been clear to me that weather forecasting 
(i.e., running a more or less sophisticated atmospheric model to provide 
weather predictions) is going to be "mainstream" in the sense that every 
business that needs such forecasts for its operations can simply run 
them in-house.

Case in point:  I bought a $1100 HP box (the obvious target group being 
teenage downloaders) which performs the HIRLAM limited area model *on 
the grid that we used until October 2006* in December last year.

It's about twice as slow as our then-operational 50-CPU Sun Fire 15K.

I wonder what effect this will have on CPU developments ...

Toon Moene - e-mail: toon at - phone: +31 346 214290
Saturnushof 14, 3738 XG  Maartensdijk, The Netherlands
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