Mobile supercomputers


Update: See “Virtualized Screen: A Third Element for Cloud-Mobile Convergence” by Yan Lu, Shipeng Li, and Huifeng Shen of Microsoft Research Asia.

Earlier I quoted Christopher Mims

The problem with mobile phones, says Allan Knies, associate director of Intel Research at Berkeley, is that everyone wants them to perform like a regular computer, despite their relatively paltry hardware. Byung-Gon Chun, a research scientist at Intel Research Berkeley, thinks that he might have the solution to that problem: create a supercharged clone of your smart phone that lives in “the cloud” and let it do all the computational heavy lifting that your phone is too wimpy to handle.

Now according to Brian Caulfield

Jen-Hsun Huang has always said his graphics chips were good for more than rendering explosions of zombie maniacs in videogames. In October the Nvidia chief executive got his proof when scientists at China’s National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin unveiled the Tianhe-1A, the fastest computer on earth. The beast sucks up 4 megawatts of power to forecast weather and survey mines at a speed of 2.5 quadrillion calculations per second. In it are 7,200 Nvidia graphics processors.

Now Huang wants (and needs) to put some of that power in your pocket.


Tegra generated less than $52 million in sales in the most recent quarter, or 6% of Nvidia’s total. Huang is promising a spate of new products next year tied to Google’s newest version of Android smartphone software. […]

Huang sees a day when mobiles with graphics cores will be able to identify objects through a camera, much like Tony Stark’s visor did in Iron Man 2. “To make that happen you need a supercomputer with all kinds of parallel-processing capability and a mobile device with parallel-processing capabilities. By connecting them you have a supercomputer in your hand,” Huang says.

Iron Man’s visor? Not very compelling. What would be some more convincing motivations for “a supercomputer in your hand”?

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