Computer Power in 5-10 Years.

Earlier in June Elliot Fang mentioned at a Material Research Conference ““Fifteen years ago, the Cray YMP [supercomputer] was the crown jewel; it’s now equivalent to a PDA we have in our pocket.”

So where wil computers be in five to ten years? According to the Seattle Times:
Monday, June 26, 2006

WASHINGTON — The federal government is pushing computer scientists and engineers to step up the speed and capacity of America’s supercomputers.

Officials say much faster performance is needed to handle a looming tidal wave of scientific, technical and military data.

“Within the next five to 10 years, computers 1,000 times faster than today’s computers will become available. These advances herald a new era in scientific computing,” according to Raymond Orbach, undersecretary for science at the Department of Energy.

Interestingly, the DOE is interested in issues that are very close to those of the desalination community.

The Department of Energy also is offering $70 million in grants for teams of computer scientists and engineers to develop petascale software and data-management tools.

“The scientific problems are there to be solved, and petascale computers are on the horizon,” said Walter Polansky, senior technical adviser in the department’s Office of Advanced Scientific Computing.

For example, the Energy Department wants ultrafast computers to determine the 3-D structure of molecules that let drugs pass through cell walls, knowledge that can be vital against cancer.

This sort of knowledge would be vital to desalination research as well.

For more information online, go to the National Science Foundation program, at www.nsf.gov/pubs/2005/nsf05625/nsf05625.htm, or the Department of Energy program, at www.scidac.org.

Another possible funding resource would be the New Fund created by the Warren Buffet and Bill Gates. According to the Gates Foundation Grand Challenges in Global Health Backgrounder

A panel of international experts has identified 14 major scientific challenges that, if solved, could lead to breakthroughs in improving global health. The challenges include developing vaccines that do not require refrigeration, preventing insects from transmitting disease, and growing healthy crops in harsh climates. To achieve these breakthroughs, the foundation supports the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative.

Think the Gates Foundation might be interested in funding computer modeling that would lead to cheap/fast/durable desalination membranes & catalysts–that would in turn lead to cheap desalinised water that would help famers growing healthy crops in harsh climates? I do.

Gates Foundation funding might be used to make it simple for desalination researchers without access to the SuperComputers at the National Labs to fund their modeling requirements. Two models for doing this would be 1.) for the scientists to go to the Gates Foundation directly or 2.)for an organization like WaterReuse.org to petition the Gates Foundation for a block grant to cover scientific and admistrative costs for a modeling program that would match scientists with modelers and their supercomputers.

Just a thought.

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6 Comments on “Computer Power in 5-10 Years.”

  1. Charles Kilmer Says:

    Here’s a list of the fastest super computers as of last wednesday.

    http://www.top500.org/list/2006/06/100


  2. […] The brief answer is that he is not only confident in the current generation tools and methodologies but he is also confident in the steady improvement of the the current generation tools and methodologies. We’ve already discussed computing power in 5-10 years–and how the feds are funding research to make super computers 1000 times more powerful than today–within 10 years. The second equally important part of this is that the National Science Foundation is funding all kinds of exotic math projects. These math projects form the basis for algorithms which  lie at the heart of computer software programs. […]


  3. […] On the flight back from Santa Barbara I picked up a copy of this month’s Discover Magazine which featured an interview with Newt Gingrich. He makes the same points that I made in Computer Power in 5-10 years, The Golden Age of Math, and Nanotechnology’s Future. That is, not only is technology advancing quickly now. The pace of advancement is accelerating significantly. Discover Magazine Interview with Newt Gingrich Oct 2006 subscriber only […]


  4. […] where did the Chairman’s confidence come from? Actually, the federal government itself. The federal government is funding the research to enable super computers 10 years from now — […]


  5. […] improvement of the the current generation tools and methodologies. We’ve already discussed computing power in 5-10 years–and how the the NSF & DOE are funding research to make super computers 1000 times more […]


  6. […] where did the Chairman’s confidence come from? Actually, the federal government itself. The federal government is funding the research to enable super computers 10 years from now — […]


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