RealNews

In Computing, Weighing Sheer Power Against Vast Pools of Data

For almost two decades the federal government has heavily underwritten elaborate centers to house the world’s fastest supercomputers. The policy has been based on the assumption that only government money could ensure that the nation’s research scientists had the computing power they needed to pursue projects like simulating the flow of air around a jet airplane wing, mimicking the way proteins are folded inside cells or modeling the global climate. But now two leading American computer researchers are challenging that policy. They argue that federal money would be better spent directly on the scientific research teams that are the largest users of supercomputers, by shifting the financing to vast data-storage systems instead of building ultrafast computers. Innovation in data-storage technology is now significantly outpacing progress in computer processing power, they say, heralding a new era where vast pools of digital data are becoming the most crucial element in scientific research. Full Story

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