Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 23, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

THE WAR ON TERA....Knight Ridder brings us the latest in computer technology:

In the next five years, the government's goal is a computer system that can process at least a quadrillion [] arithmetic operations per second....known technically as a "petascale" system.

....On a more familiar level, a petascale computer will be at least 75 times faster than the most powerful game machine, such as IBMS XBox-360, and 100 times faster than a top-of-the-line desktop personal computer, such as the Apple Power Mac.

Let's see now....one petaflop is a thousand teraflops. So if that's 100 times faster than an Apple Power Mac, that means the Mac is producing....um....

Wow! 10 teraflops! Where do I get one?

UPDATE: And as frinklin points out in comments, when did IBM start making the Xbox?

Kevin Drum 6:28 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (48)

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Comments

Good to see Knight-Ridder's so quick on the uptake. I just a 360, and I'm pretty sure it says "Microsoft" on the box.

Posted by: frinklin on June 23, 2006 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

I "just bought a 360". That's what I get for mocking others mistakes.

Posted by: frinklin on June 23, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

This is why reporters get less and less respect... Plus they don't they fail to ask obvious questions.

Posted by: LeisureGuy on June 23, 2006 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

Note that computer leans left.

Posted by: cld on June 23, 2006 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

You know, if you have a disk subsystem that stores petabytes of data, you might say you have "petafiles".

Hoo boy, I love me some bad puns!

Posted by: Generic Righty on June 23, 2006 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

whoopsie, that was me. Forgot to go back to my Clark Kent identity...

Posted by: craigie on June 23, 2006 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

These magnitudinal difficulties appear to be catching. Take Tony Snow, today. Please:

... It helped capture Hambali, who was responsible for the Bali bombing which killed more than 2,000 people. ...

Posted by: Elton Beard on June 23, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

xbox-360's cpu is a powerpc, from ibm.

microsoft using powerpc, apple using intel.
if looking at the political arena doesn't convince you this is bizarro world...

Posted by: bs23 on June 23, 2006 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

IBM makes the processor for the XBOX 360 as it does (for another month or so) for Apple's highest end computers -- the Power Macs.

Posted by: Steve Jobs on June 23, 2006 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

Then it should have said IBM's "processor" for the XBox 360.

Posted by: Ken Blackwell on June 23, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Who the fuck cares who makes me? For god sakes, please buy me, I'm lonely...sniff...

Posted by: XBox-360 on June 23, 2006 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

Top ten terror flops:

10 Moussaoui
9 Yellow Alert
8 No nail clippers on airplanes
7 Padilla
6 John Walker Lindh
5 My Pet Goat
4 Wanted Dead Or Alive
3 Shock and Awe
2 Abu Ghraib and Gitmo
1 Secret Torture Prisons

Add your own....

Posted by: jerry on June 23, 2006 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

I am waiting for the Xbox System/370

Posted by: jerry on June 23, 2006 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

The 10 teraflops may refer to the original (3 year old) benchmark of Virginia tech's mac based supercomputer. It was 1100 dual processor Power Mac G5s strung together.

You couldn't afford the power bill.

Posted by: B on June 23, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

reference here:

http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,61252,00.html

Posted by: B on June 23, 2006 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

Or maybe they're just lousy with math and the metric system.

Posted by: B on June 23, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

No, it's faith-based computing, that's the trouble.

Posted by: craigie on June 23, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

WTF are you guys talking about? Give me a computer that runs Photoshop, Flash, After Effects, itunes, outlook and Trillian without slowing down... I will marry it.

Posted by: enozinho on June 23, 2006 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

IBM makes the powerpc processor derrivative that runs the Xbox360.

They are also part of a consortium that will produce the cell processor that powers the upcoming PS3, which is what they want to talk more about.

Posted by: spiny on June 23, 2006 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

fact-checking R us...

Posted by: supersaurus on June 23, 2006 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

When I read/hear/see laughable mistakes in the MSM on subjects where I have some expertise, it makes me wonder if their repoting on subjects where I have less expertise is any better.

I suspect that on subjects where I lack personal expertise, I'm being fed a stream of half-baked bullshit and don't even what part is baked and what's raw dough.

Posted by: alex on June 23, 2006 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

See, Kevin? Now you understand why we Apple users pester you to buy a Mac everytime you ask a tech question.

Posted by: stand on June 23, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

Hopefully IBM can get a US gov't contract to design a supercomputer in India, so they can build it in China.

Posted by: alex on June 23, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Glad you guys know so much. IBM developed the chip for the XBox.

http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/oct2005/tc20051025_898864.htm

I should know. I helped.

Posted by: elroy on June 23, 2006 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK
Glad you guys know so much. IBM developed the chip for the XBox.

That IBM supplies the processor for the XBox-360 has been pointed out repeatedly upthread; the system is still not "IBM's XBox-360", but "Microsoft's XBox-360".

Posted by: cmdicely on June 23, 2006 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I believe you mean the Petascale machine will be 10,000 times faster than an Apple Power Mac.
Current 10 Terahertz or better machines have thousands of processors.

neutrino

Posted by: neutrino on June 23, 2006 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Sorry, Knight-Rider had it wrong.

Neutrino

Posted by: neutrino on June 23, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, my 640K machine is still doin just fine so none of that new fangled stuff for me

Posted by: Bill "swingin" Gates on June 23, 2006 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

Yes.

The Microsoft switch to PowerPC chips for XBox 360, and the Apple switch to Intel chips for Macintosh - both happening in the last two years, is roughly equivalent in politics to:

Democrats voting to eliminate the bill of rights.
Republicans voting for a 100% income tax, with a flat (dollar amount) refund to all citizens; and the criminal penalty for corporate accounting fraud being increased to capital punishment.

Seriously - it's been like bizzarro world here in IT-land lately.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 23, 2006 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

"When I read/hear/see laughable mistakes in the MSM on subjects where I have some expertise, it makes me wonder if their repoting on subjects where I have less expertise is any better."

It isn't. Sobering thought, ain't it?

Posted by: ellwood on June 23, 2006 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

The real question is, how many Libraries of Congress will it store?

Posted by: Pink on June 23, 2006 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

If someone hasn't mentioned this yet, why not just buy 75 Xboxes?

Posted by: Matt on June 23, 2006 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

I think people of a certain age remember the IBM 360 which was the gold standard in corporate computing back in the day. Developing the operating system is the basis for the book the "Mythical Man Month"

Posted by: Larry Dooley on June 23, 2006 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

I think the UofO football team bought 75 XBox-360s for their players.

I had thought it was just a simple NCAA rule violation, but maybe they plan on doing some contract work for the DOE.

Posted by: rewolfrats on June 23, 2006 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

As my high-school chemistry teacher once asked, "What's a few powers of ten between friends?"

Posted by: Charley on the MTA on June 23, 2006 at 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

It doesn't really say a lot about our government's goals that in five years it wants to have a computer only 75 times faster than a machine that lets kids play King Kong today.

Posted by: nobody on June 23, 2006 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

"The Government's goal"

What is this? Some kind of Republican "5 year plan?"

Bunch of commies.

Posted by: Archie on June 23, 2006 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

Not to mention that if Knight Ridder's assertion was correct, export restrictions (IIRC the most recent threshold is ~200000 MTOPS) would preclude the sale of, or would require an export license to sell, such an XBox or Apple Power Mac in many countries. (And for the geeks out there.... The XBox 360 cell is rated at ~1 Tflop; the Nvidia graphics chip is rated at ~2-5 Tflops.)

Posted by: has407 on June 23, 2006 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

"... the government's goal is a computer system that can process at least a quadrillion arithmetic operations per second."

ROTFLMAO.

Does the government have that many hamsters?

Since when did Big Bush Government produce anything better or faster than the market economy could ever produce it?

Eh? Since when?

What was it Heinlein said?

"An elephant is a mouse built to government specifications."

Or how about I quote myself:

"The space shuttle is a reusable launch system built to government specifications."

Which is all to say:

I've got as much faith in this government as a Russian peasant used to have in one of those USSR five year plans.

Nil.
Nada mucho...
Nyetski..........

ROTFLMAO.
The USA should stick to soccer...

Posted by: koreyel on June 23, 2006 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

Oh geez, we got monkeys running the government.

It's worse than you think. Nightline had a story about the Pentagon getting suckered by a video game. Their EXPERTS thought it had been modified by al-Qaeda as a terrorist recruiting tool, but it turned out to be just an alternative play option.

http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=2105341
.

Posted by: VJ on June 23, 2006 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

A petaflop. Hmmm. Time to bump PGP up to 5096 bit.

Either that, or figure out a way to clean up after all those animal activists...

JF

Posted by: Jaime Frontero on June 23, 2006 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

sort of related. IBM and GA Tech just announced that they have created a chip that operates at a speed of 350GHz at room temperature, and about 500GHz when cooled to about 8 degrees Absolute.

They expect, that is IBM expects, to be mass producing them in a year. Add some fast buses, string a bunch together in parlallel, and you can make a fast computer.

Posted by: republicrat on June 24, 2006 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

OK, I'm going to obsess about this until I actually write it down.

The product is the Xbox 360. No upper-case "B", no dash.

That is all

Posted by: I Am Somebody on June 24, 2006 at 2:39 AM | PERMALINK

IBM's always made the chips for computer, it just happens that they're making the chip in the 360.

That's one of the major reasons Apple isn't using IBM G5s anymore, and switched to Intel...

My iMac is ten teralops? O-o

Posted by: Crissa on June 24, 2006 at 3:17 AM | PERMALINK

The biggest hurdle in developing the new chip is keeping it from vibrating at oscillating frequencies that simulate old Beach Boys tunes, which the researchers call 'petasounds'.

Posted by: biggerbox on June 24, 2006 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

UPDATE: And as frinklin points out in comments, when did IBM start making the Xbox?

Since the started producing my personal favourite component, the CPU ;-) (How could any frink miss that!) Its a powerPC, the same kind that was used in mac`s....

Posted by: ab on June 24, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

You guys are seriously going to pick the nit that IBM makes the chip but not the box? Good job, you'll show them, they suck.

Posted by: crack on June 24, 2006 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

This conclusion might very well be true. pay attension to this article, it can tell us a lot...

Posted by: tutsi on June 25, 2006 at 4:49 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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