Wednesday, November 19, 2008

From the SC08 Showfloor

I started my usual walk through the showfloor yesterday after the keynote to get the lay of the land and try to ID interesting talks at some of the lab booths. The FermiLab booth always has cool stuff, last it was a cloud chamber where you could see the trails of particles. This year they have an interesting sculpture modeled on a dark matter detector. The actual unit is under ground, however it is approximately the same size as this. So far they haven't detected much and are working to make the detection wafers larger.

Update 11/20/08 9:05: I should have noted they are looking for weakly-interacting massive particles (WIMPs), and there is an interesting story over at Wired from yesterday reporting another group of researchers on the same hunt seem to have found something interesting.

nVidia is getting a lot of attention for their "personal" supercomputer. The numbers look great, but one has to keep in mind that, as Glen points out, these are not general purpose HPC systems.

Rich Brueckner over at Sun (which seemed to be one of the busier booths) was in chaps and ready to ride, but with good reason - he had brought the Java Chopper to the show:

It's interesting to note in Rich's blog that he is looking to add a SunSpot to the bike...

These are very interesting little devices coming out of Sun Labs, the research arm of Sun. They have a variety of sensors and I/O options (accelerometers, light detectors, temperature sensors, LEDs, push buttons and general I/O pins), they run Java, they automatically form wireless mesh networks to communicate, and they can run for months on a single battery charge. A Java chopper with a Java-embedded SunSpot cranks the geek meter up pretty high...

which then quickly thwacks back to the zero pin across the aisle at the Microsoft booth. They were working a golf theme, obviously, and had a video golf course setup:

My guess is that this attracted mostly sales people from other vendors, as opposed to HPC customers, who don't as a group strike me as major golfers. I don't think Microsoft marketing has quite the right line on the SC crowd... my condolences to the MS booth staffers who have to toe the line, to their credit they were doing the best they could with what they had to work with.

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