With researchers looking to harness a computer’s power in an Earth-friendly way, Cambridge University have built the world’s most efficient green supercomputer.
In the sector technology that’s responsible for making all of our gadgets tick round the clock with startling efficiency and power that only the brainiest thinkers could have imagined a century ago, there’s a hypothesis called Moore’s Law. Named after the co-founder of Intel, Gordon Earle Moore, Moore’s 1965 idea prophesied that every two years, computing power would effectively double, meaning that our minds will be blown next year by things we didn’t even think were possible a year ago. What it also means is that breakthroughs are consistently being made in how much our computational devices (whether that be phones or actual computers). What Moore’s Law doesn’t account for, however, is the energy consumption of these newly powerful devices but now, thanks to a green supercomputer made at Cambridge University, both features may now be possible.
The supercomputer, despite being the most efficient of its kind, has but a modest name, being called ‘Wilkes’, after computing pioneer, Maurice Wilkes, by the team at Cambridge University. Wilkes is somewhat of a behemoth and to call it a ‘technical powerhouse’ would be an understatement as it is contains the computational power of around 4,000 desktop computers. In spec terms, Wilkes can get up to 3,361 Mega-flops (a unit of measurement used to decide just how much computing a computer can do) per watt of power, making it highly useful at getting things done without harming the environment extensively.
Despite having these impressive stats behind its name, Wilkes is actually ranked 166th out of the supercomputers in the world, and in terms of how ‘green’ and eco-friendly it is, it places 2nd. However, it is the most efficient, given that the supercomputer at the top spot, a machine in Tokyo, requires oil to be cooled, whereas Wilkes is cooled by air. Ultimately, what Wilkes will be used for isn’t some incredibly speedy downloads of Homeland, or whatever it is that the cool kids are watching nowadays, as it will be used in the development of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which is set to be the biggest radio telescope ever made, which is a feat that Cambridge University should be proud of.
We’ll keep you posted once we know more.