The face of supercomputing is quickly changing.
This week's Supercomputing 10 conference in New Orleans is drawing plenty of corporate announcements out of the woodwork. Some are expected, such as Intel
I'm talking about Amazon.com
NVIDIA is no stranger to high-performance computing, but this is the first time I've seen its Tesla chips available on demand as part of a top-tier cloud-computing offering. To give you some idea of how powerful Tesla can be when you sic it on the right task, let me point out that the new offering adds just two Tesla GPUs to an already-impressive cluster of 33.5 gigahertz-level central processors.
For this seemingly insignificant addition, you pay Amazon 31% extra per hour of number-crunching. If you need more than eight simultaneous instances of this service to forecast the weather on Venus or what-have-you, you need to ask Amazon for permission first, and the new service is so far only available out of its Northern Virginia data center. It's a bit of a luxury service at this point.
The highly specialized calculation circuits in modern graphics processors can perform some amazing feats of mathematical wonderment, so I suppose we should have expected this type of service to make the rounds sooner or later. In all honesty, I thought we were just waiting for AMD's Fusion solutions to mature into this role and make large-scale CPU-plus-GPU computing feasible. But NVIDIA stole a march on AMD here.
In the long run, Fusion and the competing integrated solutions it's forcing out of Intel -- and maybe ARM Holdings
Will Tesla make an all-around computing king out of NVIDIA, or will cheaper graphics chips powered by AMD and Intel rule the future, in a repeat of cheap CPUs' effective use in today's cloud-computing world? I think the latter, but NVIDIA sure ain't dead yet. You can follow this brewing supercomputing storm more closely by adding NVIDIA, AMD, and Intel to your Foolish watchlist.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value choice. Amazon.com and NVIDIA are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. The Fool owns shares of and has bought calls on Intel. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.