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

Gerry Creager gerry.creager at
Tue Jul 1 05:13:47 PDT 2008

John Hearns wrote:
> On Mon, 2008-06-30 at 20:20 +0200, Toon Moene wrote:
>> 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.
> Garbage in, garbage out.
> By that I mean that the CPU horsepower may be more and more readily
> affordable for businesses like that - let's say it is an ice-cream
> wholesaler who would like to have a three day forecast to allow stocking
> of their outlets with ice cream.
> However, the models depend on input from sensor networks - not my area
> of expertise, but I should imagine manned and unmanned weather stations,
> ocean buoys to measure wave height, satellite sensors.
> Do we see such data sources being made freely available, and in real
> time (ie not archived data sets)??

In the US, at least for academic institutions and hobbyists, surface and 
upper air observations of the sort you describe are generally available 
for incorporation into models for data assimilation.  Models are 
generally forced and bounded using model data from other atmospheric 
models, also available.  As I understand it from colleagues in Europe, 
getting similar data over there is more problemmatical.

> Hopefully on topic the Manchester Guardian newspaper (you all know me
> now for a Guardian reader) is running a "Free Our Data" campaign - to
> pressurise Government to make freely available GIS type data and census
> data which the Government has. I'm personally unconvinced of the
> overwhelming justification for (say) the Ordnance Survey to give all of
> its mapping data away for free.

Last summer, in Paris, I had a discussion on this subject with the 
Ordinance Survey's chief cartographer.  It is their intent to free the 
data save reasonable costs of reproduction/maintenance as soon as they 
can establish these.  In the US, this is the norm.  In Texas, where I 
live, there's a site with State basemap data, highly accurate roadway 
data, land-use/land-cover, census, etc. that's just an FTP call away, 
or, if you want to pay roughly $10 per DVD, they'll burn a copy for you 
(cost of personnel for reproduction of the DVD).  Some states have 
deemed their data proprietary.  A lot have locked their data down 
somewhat since 9/11, as our Department of Homeland Security has called 
for restricting access to Critical Infrastructure data.  Note that the 
last listing of Critical Infrastructure for Texas listed some 268 pages 
of delineation, description and justification.  I fear it's been 
updated/expanded since then.  It included banks, cemeteries, schools, 
bridges, water and sewer plants, shopping malls, high-traffic 
motor-ways, refrigerated facilities, supermarkets, gas stations, 
bridges, power transformer and generation sites, power transmission 
lines, petroleum pipelines, and gas stations, to name a few.  There was 
discussion of adding individual residences to the list.  As you can see, 
restricting access to "critical infrastructure" could result in a blank map.
Gerry Creager -- gerry.creager at
Texas Mesonet -- AATLT, Texas A&M University	
Cell: 979.229.5301 Office: 979.458.4020 FAX: 979.862.3983
Office: 1700 Research Parkway Ste 160, TAMU, College Station, TX 77843

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