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IBM Wants to Make its Watson Supercomputer as Small as a Pizza Box


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Pizza boxes.

IBM aims to build a version of its Watson supercomputer the size of a pizza box ... eventually.

Credit: Daniel Goodman/Business Insider

IBM researchers are developing handheld computers with the power of today's supercomputers. The researchers recently demonstrated a smartphone-size prototype microcomputer that integrates central-processing units and circuitry typically spread out over large motherboards.

In addition, they plan to develop a "datacenter in a box" holding several of these computers, which could lead to even smaller computers, says IBM researcher Ronald Luijten. Eventually, IBM wants to build a version of its Watson supercomputer the size of a pizza box, containing a series of these microcomputers.

IBM also is developing a system combining 128 computers into an application-size server that can deliver the same level of performance as servers that are four to 10 times larger. The prototype server consumes 55 to 60 watts of power, which is less than larger servers. The dense server, which consists of 1,536 cores and is capable of simultaneously running 3,072 threads, has been tested with IBM's DB2 software. "I think this technology lends itself well to general-purpose cloud computing," Luijten says.

Next year, IBM plans to demonstrate another version of the server that is equally as fast and draws just 30 to 35 watts of power. The new prototype microcomputers, which measure 133 millimeters by 55 millimeters, have the same computing power as standard server motherboards that measure 305 millimeters by 245 millimeters, according to the researchers.

From IDG News Service
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