Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Treemaps, supercomputers and the internet of things

The biannual survey of the world's top 500 supercomputers has just been published, and there's some rather nice graphics on the BBC web site illustrating it. The graphics are treemaps, and show a lot of complex information in a very clear, concise way - also very easy to understand and interpret. You can see the computers ranked by operating system (Linux basically wiping the field), the country with the most (USA), the manufacturer (IBM, followed by HP and Cray), the processor, the speed and the use. The fastest in the UK, (and the 16th in the world) is at the University of Edinburgh. The highest application of these supercomputers is for research, as you might expect, followed by academic - but I'm not sure of the difference. There's other interesting applications - the fastest/biggest supercomputer in New Zealand for example is owned by WETA - the digital media company responsible for some of the best movie special effects around.

I wonder how things will change over the next few years, and if the application of these supercomputers will move away from academic research and into more information processing. At the recent Eduserv symposium both Paul Golding and I talked about the Internet of Things, and there's a rather nice video from IBM explaining it here:

Not quite sure about the analogy of the planet having a central nervous system, but it explains the interconnectivity of things, and the amount of data being produced which needs processing into information, knowledge and wisdom. But perhaps data processing doesn't need supercomputers? I'm sure someone will tell me in the comments.....

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