May 10, 2011
An interesting article out of the New York Times has us looking back in time this evening. According to esteemed computer scientist and Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher Dr. Jack Dongarra, the iPad 2 you've been playing with would have "stayed on the list of the world’s fastest supercomputers through 1994." Sure, that's 17 years ago, but -- though Moore will remind us how fast processor technology moves -- it's still a pretty remarkable accomplishment. In the report, the new iPad gets compared to the Cray 2 supercomputer:
The Cray 2 was an unusual computer even by the standards of its designer, Seymour Cray. About the size of a large washing machine, it was cooled by immersion in a liquid called Flourinert that had been developed by 3M, and that was occasionally used as a human blood substitute during surgery. The machine was housed in an aquariumlike structure, and was affectionately nicknamed “bubbles.” Meanwhile, ...the iPad runs off a battery and is air-cooled...Anyone who's used Apple's latest and greatest technological wonder will tell you that the battery life is a huge selling point. On my first-gen iPad, I already get over 12 hours of continuous usage; and the iPad 2, by all accounts, retains that same great longevity. Dr. Dongarra even hints at iPad arrays that could "provide a very power-friendly cluster,” but notes it doesn't make much financial sense. Still, we expect the man and his colleagues to pursue the project, because that's what computer scientists do.