It seems virtually impossible for most of us to imagine life without computers these days. We have come to rely on them so much for information, entertainment and most importantly, work. Every business depends on the reliability of computers. Even if it's only a small, one person business, that business will have customers and suppliers that all rely on computers to function and it will also employ the services of a bank that runs on computer networks so there really is no escaping it.
Many people will carry out their shopping over the internet, others will find necessary services and trades people and virtually all companies will have an internet presence given that this is the most effective and wide ranging form of advertising possible.
Beginning with the hugest industrial pc you have ever seen, down to the tiny hand-held devices that are now widely available, computers have made some profound leaps through technology to a point where almost every home, at least in the Western world, owns one. Even children seem unable to carry out school homework without a home pc these days.
Of course, the hand held computers, the laptops and the home pc's of today are simply not a patch on an industrial pc. The amount of data that the average pc deals with at home or at work is quite tame when you consider what an industrial pc copes with. But this is the way it has to be. An industrial pc is better equipped and much more reliable through necessity than a home or office pc simply because of the amount of data it has to manage. A domestic pc simply could not cope and for us all to have a computer with the capacity of an industrial pc would put it out of the price range of most of us.
These computers far outreach the home computer when it comes to performance. We all know the frustration of losing internet connection or waiting for a page to load that feels like it's taking for ever but is, in fact, probably taking a minute of two. This fact alone shows how much we have come to rely on computers to hurry our lives along.
High performance computers (HPC) will soon be capable of dealing with a thousand trillion operations per second and a thousand trillion bytes of data per second. These numbers are pretty incomprehensible to most of us because there is never going to be an instance when we could possible need this but when you look at worldwide events such as security and banking, then you could see how it would come in handy.
That said, this massive computer ability is most useful in the medical and technological fields of research. All the possible combinations of absolutely anything can be processed in drastically reduced time. In fact, the industrial computer currently coping with this data will provide more than 500 million hours of computing time and will perform equations that would take an average computer a total of 200,000 years to work out - all in the space of four weeks. Again, these are incomprehensible figures to the average person.
This computer, the NSF TeraGrid connects scientists and researchers across the US and makes the home pc look like a child's toy.
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