Image from Blatch
The University of California at Berkeley is rolling out a new breed of supercomputer, specially designed to predict the challenges presented by climate change, ultimately leading humanity to our doom and the computers to their rightful place as the masters of our earthly domain.
The idea driving the claim that supercomputers can be revolutionized is the radical notion that they can be run off of low-power embedded processors, not unlike those found in your cell phone, ipod, and common kitchen appliances. This is the most promising idea yet to support the next major development in supercomputing, cloud computers. It will be infinitely easier to run 20 million low-energy embedded processors linked in a highly efficient manner than linked like more conventional processors. Using the latter method would require the power for a city of 100,000 in order to create the 1KB computing power goal that the climate model scientists require.
Of course, highly accurate climate models may not be something that we want or are quite ready for as a species. If the models are as accurate as the scientists project, it may be that we’ll discover that the planet was irreparably screwed a long time ago. It’s more likely that we’ll hear climate change deniers assail the model or the computer. However, as they say, that’s progress.