Yummy: TeraFLOPS on a chip

New research prototype with 80 cores detailed by Intel CEO, who promises production versions within 5 years.

Today at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, Intel today revealed a new research prototype processor with 80 floating point cores on a single die. Each core runs at 3.16 GHz, according to Justin Rattner, Intel’s chief technology officer. That’s 80 FPU cores at 3.16 GHz producing (let me do the math at about 0.2 milliFLOPS) 252.8 GHz!

The silicon die on this experimental chip, just 300mm2, is capable of achieving a teraFLOPS of performance, or 1 trillion floating point operations per second on a single chip. This is not to be confused with the marketing hype currently being spewed by Microsoft and Sony regarding their gaming consoles being able to pump out teraFLOPS (pure hype and funky math).

CEO Paul Otellini contrasted this with Intel’s historic breakthrough 11 years ago with the world’s first teraFLOPS supercomputer, a computational beast occupying 85 cabinets in 2,000+ square feet, powered by nearly 10,000 Pentium Pro processors. That computer, ASCI Red, was decommissioned this year by Sandia National Nuclear Security Administration, after nine years of use.Of interest is that despite its 10,000 processors, the system was able to average several hundred hours between hardware-caused interrupts, handily beating its design rating of 27 hours between meltdowns.

Otellini pledged to have a commercially available 80-core CPU within the next five years (with, presumably, much improved TTBM [Total Time Between Meltdowns])! That’s both comforting and shocking all in the same breath.

This week Intel announced quad core processors ready for market in November (named Core 2 Quad).

Intel CEO Paul Otellini holds a silicon wafer
Image courtesy of News.com (http://news.com.com/2300-1006_3-6119652.html)

Interesting Factoids:
Some interesting facts are that the KLAT2 supercomputer at the University of Kentucky cost about $640 per gigaFLOPS. This had fallen to $82/gigaFLOPS when the University of Kentucky installed the KASY0. If one considers the very specialized GPUs in ATI or NVidia video cards, a gigaFLOP today can be had for about $1.

Apple’s iPhone Timing Fascinating

Internet chatter (mere speculation) regarding Apple’s cell phone plans is fascinating, evolving from “Will Apple release an iTunes-enabled phone?” to “When will Apple release and iTunes-enabled phone?”

Apple’s fall from computing dominance was driven in part by the company’s focus on launching market disrupting technology called “Newton”, the first hand-held computer (now called a PDA). In that instance, being first to market nearly destroyed Apple as they fettered away copious amounts of cash and Macintosh market momentum publicly trying to perfect an overpriced, poorly performing device for which most people weren’t yet ready. The icing on the cake was when a large number of Apple employees bolted to join a little company cofounded by Apple veteran Donna Dubinsky called Palm Computing.

Artist's rendition of the rumored Apple iPhone, with click wheel interface similar to iPodHas Apple learned its lesson? I suggest they have, as they appear to be consciously dragging their feet in entering the music-enabled cell phone business. Their 2005 partnership with Motorola to produce an iTunes compatible cellphone resulted in a bit of a marketplace row when the product shipped sporting only meager musical capabilities. Apple’s problem? Heck no. It was a Motorola phone that disappointed, not an Apple phone.

Now, with 25 entrants in this increasingly crowded field, the time is ripe for Apple to make a huge splash in a market that curiously has benefitted from the mere speculation that Apple might come to play. I suspect in hindsight, we’ll marvel at the market awareness of Jobs et. al, in that they sat back, perfected an initial offering that dwarfed those of their early-to-market competitors, without giving up market share in a business where brand allegiance is trumped by feature set. And the iTunes universe is the killer feature set. Yes, Apple appears to have learned that lesson well.

Read more: http://www.appleinsider.com/article.php?id=2073

Note: The iPhone rendition above is provided courtesy of MacRumors.com. According to that site, the iPhone will sport the familiar iPod click wheel interface, which will slide down to reveal a normal numeric phone keypad. I suspect that the functionality of the click wheel will be integrated into a touch-sensitive LCD screen, based upon recent US Patent Office applications by Apple for such an interface. Their filing, made September 30, 2005 is titled “Proximity detector in handheld device.” See image below, courtesy of the US Patent Office.
Apple Touchscreen Interface patent drawing

Now You Can Be a War Profiteer

During the next month and a half that U.S. troops fought their way through Iraq, Halliburton’s stock languished, dipping as low as $9.59, then closing at $10.13 on May 1st, the day President Bush announced the end of major hostitilites. Total coalition deaths stood at 1731.

Exactly two months after the start of the “operation”, as it became more and more apparent that our involvement in Iraq wouldn’t end with Saddam’s overthrow, HAL had increased 9.34% to $11.00 per share. That’s good profit. Hopefully, you hung on to that stock. By year-end, Halliburton had rocketed to $12.59. Now, I didn’t own Halliburton stock, but I can tell you, the stock I did have during 2003 pretty much stunk in terms of making me money.

Six months and 862 dead Americans later, it was obvious that the end of major combat operations had been replaced by really deadly minor operations. Not to worry, though, as Halliburton had become a darling of Wall Street, trading at $14.78/share on June 30, 2004 (representing a 46.9% gain in 15 months). If you sold then, you were happy. Until you watched it move even higher, closing the year out at $19.30. No matter that the green was fringed in red. Christmas colors, you say.

As 2005 rolled around, HAL investors were giddy with anticipation. Insurgents in Iraq were literally bathing the country in the blood of American soldiers as well as innocent Iraqi civilians. When you’re in the business of war and oil, carnage and uncertainty are great for profit! Halliburton’s stock performed admirably, closing the year out at $30.78, representing year-over profit of 59.48% for stockholders. Of course, we’d be remiss not to mention the 6.25 cents dividend paid out over each of these very good years ($0.1875/share). Those in know held on to their shares from the day the “Operation” began, logging a robust 206% profit. Man, war without end is sounding better and better every day!

The sad news is that HAL has struggled as of late, closing down to $27.84 last night. This was after it hit $41.99 on April 20th, and after another 7.5 cents dividend (wow, stock price up, dividend payouts up). As capitalism demands, HAL has rewarded CEO David J. Lesar, paying him $100 million since the war began. Sell high, and you’d have cleaned up on this whole Iraqi War affair too: 317% profit in 1127 days. That’s 3 years and 1 month of doubling your money every year. That’s 1.18% for every ten US soldiers who gave their lives.

Perhaps it’s time for us to put the words of our Glorious Leader into practice in our stock trading habits:

“Our nation is somewhat sad, but we’re angry. There’s a certain level of blood lust, but we won’t let it drive our reaction. We’re steady, clear-eyed and patient, but pretty soon we’ll have to start displaying scalps.” â??George W. Bush

Source: George W. Bush

U.S. Army Pays $400 per Gallon for Gas

Four hundred dollars for a gallon of gas. Crazy, right? Not if you’re war profiteering!

Hydrogen fuel represents the great hope for energy independence. A friend of mine sent me a great link to a BBC video showing General Motors’ new Hy-wire, a functional concept car that is 100% powered by hydrogen. Sweet! But, as I began to do some followup research on the web, I stumbled across something that gave me pause:

The U.S. Army has spent as much as $400 PER GALLON to ship gas to Iraq. $400 a gallon?!

“The U.S. Army has the largest fleet of vehicles in the world. Improving fuel economy and reducing the logistics of the fuel supply chain could save millions of dollars. For example, it cost the U.S. Army up to $400 a gallon of gas to ship fuel to Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Source: General Motors

Reminiscent of the $800 toilet seat, $500 coffee maker, and the $400 monkey-wrench from the 1980s. Except, in this instance, I’ll bet we’re buying a whole lot more gas than toilet seats. Not to mention that gas is made from the raw materials just down the road in that little country we liberated a few years back: Kuwait.