back to article Cray swings profit on Q4 revenue dive

Supercomputer maker Cray finished out 2009 better than many might have expected it to do, reversing to a modest $3m profit on a 43 per cent revenue decline to $88.3m in the fourth quarter ended in December. It is hard to blame your biggest customer for cutting into your sales and profits, and Cray came as close as it dared to …

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Anonymous Coward

What for ?

I find it hard to stress my Core i7 system - that's 4 cores (or 8 virtual), the graphics card (4850) and disk (7200 rpm RAID 0) seem to be the bottlenecks. OK, video editing software trying to "steady" mutiple frames and other special tasks are demanding...

So, are these machines trying to inverse a 10 x 10 matrix, or compute pi to a billion places or what ? I can understand the NSA trying to decrpt millions upon millions of messages simultaneously but what on earth are these machines used for in the real world... and why are sales banned to Cuba, Iran and North Korea ?

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Anonymous Coward

this is why

What are they used for? The easiest way to answer is to suggest that you go over to ornl.gov, nersc.gov, llnl.gov, or sandia.gov and have a look around.

As for why sales to Cuba, Iran, and North Korea (among other others) are banned: this sort of computational power is very handy if you're trying to build nuclear weapons, especially if you can't risk receiving the sort of attention that an actual test detonation would bring.

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Terminator

Hmmm, petaFlOps!

Fluid dynamics (ship design and weather prediction), and nuclear explosion simulation are large consumers of machine cycles.

The Skynet OS and its associated killbot apps also up in that category.

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Linux

@What for ?

"So, are these machines trying to inverse a 10 x 10 matrix, or compute pi to a billion places or what ? I can understand the NSA trying to decrpt millions upon millions of messages simultaneously but what on earth are these machines used for in the real world... and why are sales banned to Cuba, Iran and North Korea ?"

Think of manipulating 30000x30000 matrices. Many simulations are still pretty rough approximations of the physical world. That's why you need to detonate a nuke before you can be confident it does what you want it to do, even today.

Other big numbercrunching problems are in drug desgin and medical research, simulating the interactions of a large molecule with another one. These ones still defy the largest contemporary computers in many instances.

Or.. simulate a galay of 100 million stars. That yields in 100E6*100E6 force vectors to be computed and added up. That's 1E16 operations per iteration of your simulation. The fastest CPU does just 1E12 operations/sec.

I bet the nanotech people also can make good use of powerful simulations to compute what a certain surface does to another surface or molecule.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supercomputing

Obviously, these systems can be used for all sorts of military R&D and consequentially are export-controlled.

Iran and the other evildoers can nowadays build pretty powerful machines just out of a bunch of beige boyes and 10Gbit ethernet cards and the latest switches, though. There was even a story claiming the evilers would be using masses of powerful PlayStation machines to that end.

TUX as most supercomputers are now Linux.

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