Subducting The Zone

On The Beach
Samatha was digging on the sea shore when she came across a message written in the sand, “The more things change the more they will never be the same.”

A vast undiscovered ocean lies before us. The cloud is vast, deep and invisible. It’s Oceanography. It’s the Genome. It’s life itself. Consider the silcon world; microprocessors have gone from 1Mhz to 1 Ghz and Ethernet from 10Mbps to 10 Gbps in the blink of an eye. The next step may be The Matrix. The FREE Matrix.

John Delaney’s Neptune Project is going in. He is wiring up the West Coast in an undersea monitoring network extending 10 Gig Ethernet from Canada to California. It’s switched at the The Pittock hub in Portland. Could large civil projects like these save money AND provide FREE broadband? Why not utilize the power of a 10,000 home computers in exchange for “free” broadband?

Instead of spending $30 million for a TeraFlop supercomputer, The Machine Consortium could tap into a grid of 1000, Gigaflop home PCs. It would provide free broadband to schools in exchange for access to their computers in the evening.

Bring grid supercomputing home. IBM does. In exchange for bandwidth, users might run screen savers like Folding@home or Seti@home. The basic TeraNode might consist of 20, Pentium IVs (~1 GigaFlops each), networked with GigE and backboned to the OHSU hub over 10-50 Mbps wireless. The $12,000 package might be split 50/50. Some 4 million Playstation2s have been sold and the price may be reduced to $199.

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory ordered a $24.5 million HP supercomputer, one of the fastest in the world and the world’s most powerful Linux-based supercomputer. Consisting of 1,400 Itaniums, it’s expected to peak at 8.3 teraflops. Scheduled to be fully operational in 2003, it will be used for in biological and environmental research.

The unlicensed 5.8 Ghz band could deliver a 100 Mbps backbone to OHSU, high on the hill. That location can see nearly all Portland schools and most community centers, housing units and clinics. Schools might get “free” broadband internet access with a Tsunami Multipoint Bridge ($1000-$3000) or Iospan’s 802.16 backbone. Individuals could link to nearby 10-100 Mbps hubs via inexpensive Mesh networks. “Free” connectivity in exchange for providing a grid computing node. The power of 10,000 Playstation-3s or Pentium IVs could be harnessed at very little cost and result in one of the most powerful computing arrays on Earth.

Beaverton’s Open Software Development Lab is developing grid computing software. IBM’s vice president of server development, Ross Mauri, is the president of the OSDL while Intel’s Tim Witham is director. Intel formed the Peer to Peer Working Group and has developed a Peer-to-Peer Accelerator Kit for Microsoft.NET. Combine IBM’s servers, software and storage for Grid Computing with the Sony/IBM PlayStation-3s or LiveClustered X-Boxes. IBM’s OpenDX can distribute visualizations across multiple workstations in a heterogeneous environment. Cornell’s Theory Center uses it with networked Dells. A Java 3D CAVE allows scientists to step into a virtual, 3D human, including cells, tissues and entire organisms. Perhaps “swim” through the latest Juan de Fuca event.

Supercomputer centers will soon inter-connect using the 40 Gb/s TeraGrid network. The Globus Project and The Grid Forum build internet-connected computing using distributed computing. Other collaborative environments include Batelle’s NW Collaboratory, Riken and Indiana State’s Wireless Lab. A TeraBurst Optical Switch provides wide area immersive visualization linking SDSU with the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) over high- bandwidth fiber-optic connections. Neptune’s Tomographic Imaging Environment for Ridge Research and Analysis is headed by Doug Toomey. The Visualization Center at Scripps Institution is linked to a similar facility at San Diego State University (SDSU) through 44 miles of optical fiber, with optical switches and 3.2-million-pixel screens at each end. This prototype for collaborative scientific analysis could also be used as a “command-and-control” facility for crisis management.”

One thousand Playstations with digital signal processor cores might monitor the whole of the Juan de Fuca ridge in real-time with one meter voxel resolution using NPACI’s Scalable Visualization Toolkit and Mesh Viewer. With a 256 processor CRAY T3E, SDSC’s Massively Parallel Interactive Rendering Environment volume-renders the Visible Human in an average of 9.2 seconds. Imagine Advanced Collaborative Environments using Tele-Immersion and CAVE over community grids. A live Panorama Theatre at the base of the OHSU tram could show live images from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

The Neptune Project NEEDS cost-effective, tera-scale computing. Taxpayer money might be saved and public safety improved with terascale grids. Korea understands the power of a million networked workstations. They may enter The Matrix first.

Homeland Security may ignore the biggest threat of all simply because scientists lack the political clout of police and fire departments. How many $2 Billion fabs would be incapacitated by a subduction zone earthquake? Nobody knows. It might be worth $250M to find out. Nevermind that a 9.5 subduction zone earthquake will be worse than a string of nuclear bombs…and that it’s a dead certainty.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

One thought on “Subducting The Zone

Leave a Reply