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Supercomputers are big business in Silicon Valley

2/06/2015 by Sharon Shahzad


Silicon Valley is famed for spawning the desktop, mobile and cloud computing revolutions. What is less well-known is that it’s one of the nerve centers for building the world’s fastest number-crunchers.

Once confined to big national laboratories, supercomputers are now in demand to crunch massive amounts of data for industries such as oil exploration, finance and online sales.

Silicon Valley’s strong hand in that business was highlighted in April when Intel landed the prime contract to design a $200 million supercomputer named Aurora to be housed at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois.

Aurora, developed in partnership with Cray of Seattle, will most likely become the world’s fastest supercomputer when it goes online in 2018. With Aurora’s new architecture, the Santa Clara chip company appears to be taking aim at a bigger slice of what will soon be a $15 billion to $20 billion commercial market for “high-performance” computers that can give a company a competitive edge.

“Right now in the oil and gas industry, there’s an arms race to see who can get the biggest supercomputer,” said analyst Steve Conway of the research firm International Data Corp., citing one industry that has been especially aggressive in buying the machines.

Energy companies use supercomputers to pinpoint oil deposits. Car companies use them to crash virtual cars in safety tests. Procter & Gamble uses high-performance computing to design detergents and shampoo and even potato chips. Supercomputer maker Cray says “at least one” Major League Baseball team uses one of its machines to see, among other things, how batters fare against types of pitchers.

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Montash is headquartered in Old Street, London, in the heart of the technology hub. Montash has completed assignments in over 30 countries and has appointed technical professionals from board level to senior and mid management in permanent and contract roles.

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