HPC Matters is a joint blog consisting of contributors from the Tabor Communications team on their observations and insights into HPC matters.
June 16, 2008
The announcement of each new TOP500 list and especially those with systems that break the triple order of magnitude barrier in FLOPS tend to get me thinking about the meaning of the term "supercomputer." This term has been with us at least since the 1970s (if you know of any earlier use, I would greatly appreciate hearing from you.) Although it has had its ups and downs over the years, the term has shown amazing ability to capture the imagination. Yet "supercomputer" has also persistently defied precise definition (much to the mortification of the author). Following is a list of definitions for supercomputer that have been proffered over the years:
I do not claim that the above list is exhaustive (additional definitions are welcome), and while I do not find any of these definitions entirely satisfactory, I believe there is some truth in all of them.
At the risk of tilting at windmills, and perhaps adding a little more confusion to the definition, I would like to sum up the above definitions by suggesting that a supercomputer is a computer system that exhibits one or more of the following characteristics:
Finally as a market researcher I would like to add that supercomputers are generally associated with market creation and expansion. (I am sure Professor Barnum would agree.)
Posted by Chris Willard - June 15, 2008 @ 9:00 PM, Pacific Daylight Time
Christopher Willard, PH.D. is Chief Research Officer for Intersect360 Research
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