Mark Barnell, director of high-performance computing and the Condor Cluster project at the Air Force Research Laboratory, said the system computes operations by the trillions per second and was built with off-the -shelf commercial components,including 1,716 Sony PlayStations 3 game consoles. The Condor Cluster is currently the seventh-greenest computer in the world and cost $2 million to build.
“So from a price performance, we’d probably beat all of them, but the biggest thing for us was the particular applications and the hardware we chose to build this computer with purposely matches those applications well,” Barnell said. “Some of the systems that you might refer to in the top 10 in the world are more of a general-purpose computer and also run applications that we may not. We’re just going to coexist and do some things that we need to get done with this particular supercomputer.”
The Condor Cluster is being used for neuromorphic computing, which is essentially programming the computer to read symbols, letters, words and sentences. By programing the computer to read, programmers theorize that eventually the computer would be able to fill in gaps and “think” on its own.
“We have quite a few research and development efforts, working on those kinds of applications to do confabulation and prediction,” Barnell said. “That will open up a variety of areas which could help a lot of other efforts and a lot of the areas in which the Air Force would like to go.”