Computing Grids are the combination of computer resources from multiple administrative domains applied to a common task, usually to a scientific, technical or business problem that requires a great number of computer processing cycles or the need to process large amounts of data.
ScienceDaily (July 3, 2012) — It’s a challenge that’s long been one of the holy grails of quantum computing: how to create the key building blocks known as quantum bits, or qubits, that exist in a solid-state system at room temperature.
Most current systems, by comparison, rely on complex and expensive equipment designed to trap a single atom or electron in a vacuum and then cool the entire system to close to absolute zero.
A group of Harvard scientists, led by Professor of Physics Mikhail Lukin and including graduate students Georg Kucsko and Peter Maurer and postdoctoral researcher Christian Latta, say they’ve cracked the problem, and they did it by turning to one of the purest materials on Earth: diamonds.
Using a pair of impurities in ultra-pure, laboratory-grown diamonds, the researchers were able to create quantum bits and store information in them for nearly two seconds, an increase of nearly six orders of magnitude over the life span of earlier systems. The work, described in the June 8 issue of Science, is a critical first step in the eventual construction of a functional quantum computer, and has a host of other potential applications.
Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) have developed a 3D printing technology that can quickly print detailed objects in nanoscale using a process called two-photon lithography. It’s fast, too: the precision required to print objects with features measured in hundreds of nanometers in width meant the speed of previous attempts at printing nanoscale objects were measured in millimeters per second. In contrast, the TU Vienna team’s 3D printer is capable of printing lines of resin at a rate of five meters per second. In a demonstration shown in the video below, the team was able to print a nanoscale model of a 300-micrometer long Formula 1 racecar—made from 100 layers of resin, each consisting of approximately 200 individual lines—in four minutes.
A 330x130x100 micrometer race car, printed in four minutes (Vienna University of Technology video).
The new process, developed as part of the European Commision’s PhoCam program for developing “factories of the future,” could make it practical and affordable to print intricate nano-scale structures for use in microscopic machinery and medical applications. One of those is “scaffolds” for promoting the growth of custom-made living tissues from cells, giving cells a structure to stick to. “The technique already showed good applicability for fabricating 3D environments for cells,” TU Vienna researcher Jan Torgersen told Ars in an e-mail exchange about the research.
Torgensen added that since the two-photon process isn’t limited to printing in layers, but can draw lines in three dimensions, it can be used to embed and connect objects as well. For example, he said, the team has already successfully fabricated nanoscale optical waveguides into an existing electrical matrix. “These waveguides are very promising for various optoelectronic applications,” he said.
New technology from Center of Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials holds promise in thermoelectrics
When Wake Forest graduate student Corey Hewitt (Ph.D. ’13) touches a two-inch square of black fabric, a meter goes berserk. Simply by touching a small piece of Power Felt – a promising new thermoelectric device developed by a team of researchers in the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials – he has converted his body heat into an electrical current.
Comprised of tiny carbon nanotubes locked up in flexible plastic fibers and made to feel like fabric, Power Felt uses temperature differences – room temperature versus body temperature, for instance – to create a charge.
“We waste a lot of energy in the form of heat. For example, recapturing a car’s energy waste could help improve fuel mileage and power the radio, air conditioning or navigation system,” Hewitt says. “Generally thermoelectrics are an underdeveloped technology for harvesting energy, yet there is so much opportunity.”
The research appears in the current issue of Nano Letters, a leading journal in nanotechnology. Potential uses for Power Felt include lining automobile seats to boost battery power and service electrical needs, insulating pipes or collecting heat under roof tiles to lower gas or electric bills, lining clothing or sports equipment to monitor performance, or wrapping IV or wound sites to better track patients’ medical needs.
“Imagine it in an emergency kit, wrapped around a flashlight, powering a weather radio, charging a prepaid cell phone,” says David Carroll, director of the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials and head of the team leading this research. “Literally, just by sitting on your phone, Power Felt could provide relief during power outages or accidents.”
Cost has prevented thermoelectrics from being used more widely in consumer products. Standard thermoelectric devices use a much more efficient compound called bismuth telluride to turn heat into power in products including mobile refrigerators and CPU coolers, but it can cost $1,000 per kilogram. Like silicon, researchers liken its affordability to demand in volume and think someday Power Felt would cost only $1 to add to a cell phone cover.
Currently Hewitt is evaluating several ways to add more nanotube layers and make them even thinner to boost the power output. Although there’s more work to do before Power Felt is ready for market, he says, “I imagine being able to make a jacket with a completely thermoelectric inside liner that gathers warmth from body heat, while the exterior remains cold from the outside temperature. If the Power Felt is efficient enough, you could potentially power an iPod, which would be great for distance runners. It’s pretty cool to think about, and it’s definitely within reach.” Currently Wake Forest is in talks with investors to produce Power Felt commercially.
It took awhile, and the price tag is quite a bit steeper than previously thought (shocking, right?), but the FAA is finally getting the funding it needs to bring the nation’s air traffic control system up to date. Congress just passed the bill to make it happen, allotting $11 billion to the FAA to upgrade the nation’s 35 busiest airports air traffic controls from radar to GPS. The deadline for the conversion is June 2015, and when complete, it’ll allow for more precise positioning of aircraft — GPS pings for the planes’ locations every second, while radar updates their locations every 6 to 12 seconds. With such technology enabled, airplanes will be able to take-off and land more closely together while utilizing steeper descents than is currently possible to conserve fuel. So, now that we’ve got the new traffic control system to improve airline punctuality, we just need the FAA and the FCC to team up and eliminate the “Terrible 10,000 feet” and flying might actually be fun.
Chipzilla has long been atop the PC chip manufacturing mountain, with AMD running a rather distant second. That’s why AMD’s new top man, Rory Read, plans to move the company in a more mobile direction. Speaking at the company’s analyst day, Read stated that the chipmaker will focus on outflanking Intel in the tablet space and by growing its business in cloud computing and emerging markets like China (read: entry-level PCs and devices). As to whether AMD would venture into the smartphone space, Read was quite clear in stating that there were no plans to do so. But, he did make mention of being flexible when it came to chip architecture, including using 3rd party IP in developing new silicon — so a switch to ARM may not be out of the question. How will AMD accomplish its new goals? By focusing on execution of its technology rather than trying to be on the bleeding edge — sound familiar?
It’s been over fifteen years since MasterCard, Visa and Europay developed EMV technology to make your credit cards more secure, but it has yet to really catch on here in the US. However, MasterCard has created a master plan to help usher in the EMV era and sound the death knell for the magnetic strip. Why? The EMV infrastructure is far more fraud-resistant because each transaction is authenticated dynamically using cryptographic algorithms and a user-specific PIN. That’s why MasterCard plans to help build out the EMV POS infrastructure by April of next year and have its secure e-payment system functioning at ATMs, online and with its myriad mobile payment options as well. For now, the nuts and bolts of how the credit card firm plans to bring its plan to fruition are few, but more details will be forthcoming, and there’s a bit more info at the source and PR below.
It’s not the smallest transistor out there, but the boffins at IBM have constructed the tiniest carbon nanotube transistor to date. It’s nine nanometers in size, making it one nanometer smaller than the presumed physical limit of silicon transistors. Plus, it consumes less power and is able to carry more current than present-day technology. The researchers accomplished the trick by laying a nanotube on a thin layer of insulation, and using a two-step process — involving some sort of black magic, no doubt — to add the electrical gates inside. The catch? (There’s always a catch) Manufacturing pure batches of semiconducting nanotubes is difficult, as is aligning them in such a way that the transistors can function. So, it’ll be some time before the technology can compete with Intel’s 3D silicon, but at least we’re one step closer to carbon-based computing.
IBM may be the king of patents, and Apple’s patent applications grace these pages rather frequently, but Microsoft’s not one to rest on its IP laurels, either. A couple of newly published patents out of Redmond have made their way to the web: one for securely pairing wireless devices and one for 3D rangefinder camera technology. The pairing tech works via a direct connection between devices using Bluetooth or WiFi and an automated, two-step authentication process. First, a request is sent by an initiating handset and is authenticated by its target using an address book of recognized devices. Next, the two devices exchange encrypted security keys to cement their digital friendship, leaving you free to exchange your favorite episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 or latest LOLcat pictures with the greatest of ease.
Microsoft’s other patent of interest is for “a 3D camera for determining distances to regions in a scene.” That’s not a new concept by any means, but this new bit of IP integrates all the functions of such an imager on a single chip. Essentially, it claims an image sensor, a light source to illuminate the scene being shot and a controller to gate the pixels on the sensor on and off and correct for inaccuracies caused by other light sources. It works by projecting the light source and determining the distance to various points based upon the time it takes for the light to bounce off the target and reach the camera sensor. Want to know more? You can haz all the patent particulars at the source links below.
Fujitsu’s K supercomputer was on our radar before it was even completed, and naturally, we let you know when it smoked the competition and became the supercomputing speed king. So, when we had the opportunity to see a piece of K at Fujitsu’s North America Technology Forum today, we couldn’t pass it up. In case you forgot, K is a massive machine powered by 864 racks with 24 boards per rack housing SPARC64 CPUs. We got to see one of those boards, and Yuichiro Ajima — who designed the inter-connection chips (ICC) on them — was gracious enough to give us some more info on this most super of supercomputers.
As you can see in the gallery above, each board has extensive plumbing to keep the SPARC silicon running at a manageable 32 – 35 degrees Celsius (90 – 95 Fahrenheit) under load. Underneath that copper cooling system lies four processors interspersed between 32 memory modules (with 2GB per module) and four ICCs lined up next to the board’s rack interconnect ports. Currently, the system takes 30 megawatts to do its thing, though Ajima informed us that K’s theoretical max electricity consumption is about double that — for perspective, that means K could consume the entire output of some solar power plants. When asked if there were plans to add more racks should Fujitsu’s supercomputer lose its crown, Ajima-san said that while possible, there are no plans to do so — we’ll see if that changes should a worthy opponent present itself.
Update: Turns out the K’s power consumption resides around 13 megawatts, with a max consumption of 16MW at its current configuration. The facility in Kobe, Japan where K resides can deliver up to 24 megawatts, so expansion is possible, but none is currently planned.