Personal TeraFlop Climate Simulator Article

I enjoyed an article from Chiefo entitled Personal TeraFlop Climate Simulator for How Much? The article covers some personal experience running super computers at Apple Computers in the 1990s, along with the associated costs for running high end computing resources back then.

There is a nice discussion of different processor architectures (CISC RISC SIMD MIMD SISD) and how they relate performance wise. Here is one money quote:

This matters as One Big CPU can often do a lot more than even a dozen small cheap CPUs. A 1/2 dozen Raspberry Pi’s in a Beowulf Cluster will NOT beat a newer Intel based home computer. This matters.

An interesting point back then was that a Cray supercomputer ran at about 400 MFLOPS. However most of the Crays were time sharing systems, so any given user would get a fraction of that performance.

Another interesting point is that most of the climate code software used today is written in FORTRAN. FORTRAN is one of the original programming languages, I seem to recall that it was first used in Medieval times for designing knights armor, but I could be mistaken.

The article then goes on to discuss several different solutions for building a personal TeraFlop Climate Simulator. Solutions include a group of 42 Raspberry Pis for around $1500 USD, a group of 39 Parallela boards for around $4290, and a a group of 4 Jetson TK1 Dev Kits for $800. Also included in the comparison is one Jetson TX1 for $600.

The authors conclusion is that they would use the NVIDIA Jetson for their project, but since this is a website about the NVIDIA Jetson you probably already guessed that.

Still, the article is interesting and definitely worth a read.


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