Peter Kogge headed up a DARPA study on the feasibility of creating a 1 exaflop (10^18 flops) supercomputer by 2015. The study group’s findings were less than encouraging — even taking into account new technologies such as nanotubes and reduced operating voltages, the power required of such a machine would just be too great. Further, much of the time, many of the cores would be idle — drawing power without doing anything.
That said, his article in IEEE Spectrum does a great job of outlining what the problems will be in getting to the next plateau in supercomputing, and makes for an interesting read. He writes:
Supercomputers are the crowning achievement of the digital age. Yes, it’s true that yesterday’s supercomputer is today’s game console, as far as performance goes. But there is no doubt that during the past half-century these machines have driven some fascinating if esoteric pursuits: breaking codes, predicting the weather, modeling automobile crashes, simulating nuclear explosions, and designing new drugs—to name just a few. And in recent years, supercomputers have shaped our daily lives more directly. We now rely on them every time we do a Google search or try to find an old high school chum on Facebook, for example. And you can scarcely watch a big-budget movie without seeing supercomputer-generated special effects.
So with these machines more ingrained than ever into our institutions and even our social fabric, it’s an excellent time to wonder about the future. Will the next decade see the same kind of spectacular progress as the last two did?
So are exaflop computers forever out of reach? I don’t think so. Meeting DARPA’s ambitious goals, however, will require more than the few short years we have left before 2015. Success in assembling such a machine will demand a coordinated cross-disciplinary effort carried out over a decade or more, during which time device engineers and computer designers will have to work together to find the right combination of processing circuitry, memory structures, and communications conduits—something that can beat what are normally voracious power requirements down to manageable levels.
Please note that while there are some great introductory getting-started tutorials for this board, its best used by those with microcontroller experience. If you’ve played with AVR or PICs and are intrigued by the low cost and ultra fast 32-bit ARM Cortex M3 series, this is the dev board to get! If you’re just getting started with microcontrollers and electronics you should check out the Arduino which is very beginner-friendly.
In addition to publishing the schematics and layout files, MicroBuilder has written a full software library for the LPC1300 family. This allows you to quickly get started with all on-board peripherals, so you can focus on your own application functionality. The software library includes complete GCC-based startup code and details on setting up an ARM development environment using open source tools. Along with a standard Makefile, project files for the open-source CodeLite C/C++ IDE and the commercial GCC-based Crossworks for ARM are provided.
Within minutes, you’ll be using the USB interface for printf() debugging, reading from the analog inputs using analogRead(), tweaking pins without having to look up registers, etc. and best of all no ARM or JTAG programmer is required! The chip comes with a built in USB bootloader that appears as a very small disk drive. To reprogram, simply press the Bootload button and drag your new firmware file into the USB drive that appears. Then press Reset and your code is running. Is that cool or what?
Power the board via the 2.1mm DC jack (6-12V) or the mini-B USB connector (5V). There’s an onboard 3.3V regulator (LT1113)
Debugging LED on pin 2.10 and SWD connectors for programming and debugging
Open source toolchain (GPL) and software library (BSD)
USB 2.0 HID and Mass Storage support built right into the ROM
32K of flash, 8K of SRAM…running at 72 MHz
Built-into-ROM USB bootloader works with any computer and OS
Full Speed USB, TTL UART, SPI and I2C interfaces
Up to 42 General Purpose I/O (GPIO) pins with configurable pull-up/pull-down resistors
8 10-bit Analog-to-Digital Converter pins
Four general purpose counter/timers with a total of four capture inputs and 13 match outputs
Sony sent a takedown notice to GitHub demanding the removal of 6 repositories under the ‘circumvention device’ clause of the DMCA. All of the repositories in question were related to jailbreaking or homebrew development for the PS3. We love that the DMCA is also in GitHub. This is a waste of time and money for Sony, the code on GitHub does not belong to Sony. Thanks Mike!
The number of available IPv4 addresses is rapidly shrinking down to zero. IPv4, which uses an address space of 32-bits (four bytes, as in 255.255.255.255), is expected to be exhausted by Wednesday afternoon. Not to worry though, as IPv6, which has a whopping 128-bits of address space (8 x 16-bit words), is already deployed and is expected to be tenable for considerably longer. Unless, of course, the Internet of Things happens, in which case we’ll run out by Christmas*.
Anyway, if you’d like to watch the numbers count down to zero, here are some IPv4 countdown clocks (none of which appear synchronized to each other):
What is “Ask an engineer”? From the electronics enthusiast to the professional community – “Ask an Engineer” has a little bit of everything for everyone. If you’re a beginner, or a seasoned engineer – stop in and see what we’re up to! We have demos of projects and products we’re working on, we answer your engineering and electronics questions and we have a trivia question + give away each week. Mosfet the cat stops by too. Previous chats can be viewed at http://www.adafruit.com/ask
This video shows a GeckoSystems’ Carebot(tm), equipped with a pair of Microsoft Kinect sensors, navigating through a narrow passageway cluttered with various obstacles. This represents the worst case for in-home navigation.
Kinect processing is handled by a piece of software called GeckoImager, running on a dual core 1.66GHz Intel Atom motherboard. The navigation is handled by two other GeckoSavants(tm), GeckoNav and GeckoSuper, running on a separate dual core Atom machine. Both computers were located on the robot during the video.
I wonder if the motor drive uses Spacely Sprockets or Cogswell’s Cogs…
A guided tour of the Arduino Uno. This is a really basic and I hope somewhat humorous introduction to the layout of the Arduino board and some of its functions. The Arduino is open-source and the images are my own or downloaded from public domain stuff in the Google Sketchup 3D Warehouse. Music is royalty-free from Kevin MacLeod.
Channels is a physical computing project by Alvin Chang, Ginny Hung and Suzanne Kirkpatrick. It’s built around Arduino + Processing, and was featured in the ITP 2010 Winter show. The team writes:
“Channels” is a full-body immersion installation in which you can navigate through a virtual water scene by physically interacting with tanks of water. Sit in a boat and organically control your virtual environment with natural gestures — paddle, row, and float your way through space and time.
The physical interface for ‘Channels’ — a boat and water — allows you to actually move through virtual 3D space, while paddling in real water. You can change your direction the same way you would in a real boat, by paddling more on one side than the other, or by paddling in reverse. You can slow down the same way, as well.
To detect the speed of water in the buckets, we used two flex sensor strips with half of a plastic spoon attached to the end of the strip. This allowed us to measure the movement of water. While this worked for our purposes, it probably wouldn’t work as a flow meter, which is another option we looked at.
More documentation and Processing code at the website.
PART FINDER FRIDAY – Judco SPST. A maker in the forums was looking for a ‘alternating action switch’ – one that acts like a button but is on or off. These are familiar to people with old PC’s or game consoles, that big button in front that would shut the whole machine down. Problem is most of the time the buttons are huge and he wanted a smaller one. We had the same desire when we make the Wave Bubble, and the part we found then is probably the best thing out there: a Judco SPST (there is also an SPDT version). These are good for 300mA @ 12V which makes them a nice clicky power button for your projects! Of course, its also in the adafruit Eagle library.
If you have a blog or any other kind of website then this is for you. It’s a little box that connects to the internet and displays how many visits you have on your website. It’s designed to work independently of your computer, connecting directly to the internet via your router. Mine even steals power from one of the routers USB ports.
Optimised for battery life by utilising the ATmega’s power down sleep mode. This extends battery life by many times… I can now run my data logger on a single 9V NiMH battery and keep it topped up with a solar panel.
Any number of analog pins
Any time step
Provides for sensor calibration using a simple linear model (i.e. to convert from analogRead value to whatever you want)
You can download it here. It currently does not handle digital inputs, but this would be easy to change. Please let me know if you use it and/or can think of any improvements. Enjoy!