Page 2 – News Debris For The Week Of June 19th
U.S. Supercomputers Falling Behind
China has been working hard to build the world’s fastest supercomputer for years now. They did it not long ago. Not big news anymore. But now even Switzerland has surpassed the U.S. in the Supercomputing Top500 list. From the Top500 announcement:
As a result of the Piz Daint upgrade [Swiss National Supercomputing Centre], Titan, a Cray XK7 system installed at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory [TN], drops to number four in the rankings. Its Linpack mark of 17.6 petaflops has remained constant since it was installed in 2012.
For constant, read stagnant. On the brighter side, “… the U.S. has 169 supercomputers in the top 500, followed by China with 160.”
Supercomputers are used to tackle the grandest scale problems known to humankind. They’re instrumental in keeping the U.S. competitive, attracting talent, and maintaining U.S. technical prestige. We better get to work on this.
Perhaps Apple would … ah, never mind. There’s no financial return on that investment. Oh, wait. IBM’s Watson shows the way.
Remember FireWire? I don’t know about you, but I loved it. I can’t count all the FireWire drives I bought over the years. But then the technology died. Removed from the face of the Earth. Here’s the lamentation at ars technica “The tragedy of FireWire: Collaborative tech torpedoed by corporations.”
You’ve heard of the iPhone’s Secure Enclave. It’s where important things like the boot certificate and fingerprint data are stored. Well, it may be coming to the iMac Pro, according to AppleInsider. “High Sierra firmware suggests Secure Enclave, Intel ‘Purley’ chips coming to iMac Pro.”
This will likely lead the way to Touch Bar enabled keyboards for the iMac Pro, something lacking in the latest iMacs announced at WWDC and something we all wondered about. Mystery now solved.
Paul Thurrott calls it like he sees it with the Apple Pencil.
Yes, critics—myself included—mocked Apple for the Pencil’s silly name, and for its ostensibly silly charging system, which involves a Universal port hidden under a cap that plugs awkwardly into the bottom of your iPad Pro. And for being derivative in copying Microsoft so obviously.
Well, bad news, haters. In my admittedly limited testing of Apple Pencil last year, one fact became immediately clear: Apple Pencil, despite being a 1.0 product, immediately overtook Surface Pen in performance—in lack of latency, in other words—and in just feeling like a more natural experience. And that silly charging experience everyone is so upset about? In just 15 seconds, you can charge the Pencil for 30 minutes of use. So it’s not silly, it’s useful.
Build great hardware and people will praise it.
I have space for one more item. Here’s a concept from Lenovo for a future notebook computer. It’s not on the drawing boards, and details of the technology are non-existent. I think of it as more inspirational than practical. And you gotta love the retro red button cursor control, sans trackpad. Still. Fun to look at and ponder.
Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed on page two by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weekends.