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 P.H.E.N.O.M.E.N.A.L

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Climate researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory recently set themselves the task of building a supercomputer that can model the Earth's entire atmosphere at an unprecedented level of resolution. What they came up with initially was a set of specs that, at 10 petaflops and 100 terabytes of memory, wasn't just beyond their monetary budget—it was beyond their power budget as well. So they turned to embedded systems maker Tensilica to help them design a novel supercomputer that could get them to their goal on the cheap, and without breaking the power grid in the process.

In a new study, the researchers propose to use embedded hardware that can be tailored to their specific application, i.e., weather simulation. By working closely with Tensilica, an embedded system designer firm, they calculated the cost and power requirements for such an application-specific supercomputer, and found that it could be done for an order of magnitude less cost and will require an order of magnitude less power than if they used general-purpose processors from AMD, Intel, or IBM

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