back to article America to get world's 'most powerful' AI supercomputer to create the most detailed 3D map of the universe yet

Nvidia on Thursday unveiled what it called the world’s most powerful AI supercomputer yet, a giant machine named Perlmutter for NERSC, aka the US National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center. “Perlmutter’s ability to fuse AI and high performance computing will lead to breakthroughs in a broad range of fields from …

  1. Tom 7 Silver badge


    Grumbling edge computing?

    1. Ogi

      Re: Perimutter?

      I honestly first read it as "Perl nutter". I think I've spent too much time deep in Perl the last few weeks....

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Perimutter?

        I had a mental image of Larry Wall's head floating in a nutrient bath, quoting snippets from the Camel book under his breath.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speaking of someone who uses computer modelling in engineering quite a lot, I find projects like this mind boggling for two reasons;

    Firstly the concept of managing to simplify the observable universe to the point where a small scale model can be built of it that is manageable for a super computer but still gives useful results

    and secondly, the massive amount of work that goes into creating the hardware and software so that the model can be implemented.

    The results of the modelling might be really interesting, but there's a whole load of interesting work that's gone on before the model even runs.

    1. Tessier-Ashpool

      Yeah. Whoever designed the simulated universe we currently live in did a great job.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        But this is an AI supercomputer, so we might be in one of the test set universes they are using to check the training set.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Test set?

          Probably nothing more than the initial proof of concept, to be torn down and binned when the funding comes through for the actual project.

  3. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

    Maybe they can pay for it by generating a little Bitcoin on the side.

  4. EricB123

    Long after we are dead and buried.

    Long after we are dead and buried, there will still be some version of FORTRAN around.

    1. NetBlackOps Bronze badge

      Re: Long after we are dead and buried.

      My first language from back in 1970 and I don't expect it to ever die. The same can be said for COBOL.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Long after we are dead and buried.

        My first language was English...

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Long after we are dead and buried.

          My first language was the Babble dialect of Gibberish.

          I should have become a politician.

        2. Lars Silver badge

          Re: Long after we are dead and buried.

          "My first language was English...".

          What then happened.

      2. RegGuy1 Silver badge

        Re: Long after we are dead and buried.

        And Lisp.

    2. msobkow Bronze badge

      Re: Long after we are dead and buried.

      Worse, there will still be people who think Python is a good solution for web enabled systems. *LOLOLOLOLOL*

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    When I read the name, my first thought was of the character by that name in Cussler’s books. Must get out more!

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Perlmutter

      I must get my eyes tested. I read this last night and convinced myself it was per I and not per L.

    2. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Perlmutter

      Perlmutter is a German and Ashkenazi Jewish surname. It may refer to: ..see list....

      And mutter is mother and perhaps perl is perl.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not leased out to the NSA, no siree.

    I just wonder how much of its time it'll spend breaking encryption for the chaps at Fort Meade..

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Not leased out to the NSA, no siree.

      None. It's not optimized for that kind of work.

      1. msobkow Bronze badge

        Re: Not leased out to the NSA, no siree.

        My computer isn't "optimized" for what it does, either, but throw a program at it and it runs at rapacious speed regardless.

        I think a few gigamips of processing will compensate for any shortcomings in it not being a "special purpose encryption cracker", especially with those Tesla cores to crunch on the keys in parallel. A few thousand Tesla cores is just a TAD more powerful than any home machine.

        Nah, encryption is dead. We've had machines that can brute force it on behalf of governments for some time now; they just don't like the fact to be known.

  7. Mike 137 Silver badge

    The Universe?

    Since we, on our "utterly insignificant little blue green planet" at the "unfashionable end of the Western spiral arm" (thanks Douglas Adams) of just one of gazillions of galaxies, don't even know how much about the Universe we still haven't found out, it seems a teensy bit optimistic to expect any model of it we create to be "detailed" in any realistic sense.

    Of course it has been postulated that the entire Universe is merely a computer game running on a higher plane, but if true that could lead to some interesting recursion management problems for a model such as this.

    1. msobkow Bronze badge

      Re: The Universe?

      Not reallly. You can stack VM inside VM like crazy on a lot of platforms. I don't see the difficulty in a simulation running a simulation internally. :)

  8. Miss Config
    Thumb Up

    Proving ( or Disproving ) Einstein

    constructing the largest known three-dimensional simulation of the universe to date

    So that will be better than

    Today's Guardian story about Einstein being 'wrong'

    Enough computer power to (dis)prove Einstein.

    Can't get much more 'high powered' than that.

  9. jake Silver badge

    This thing is LATE!

    It was supposed to be online last year ... Here's an article on the subject written by a name that long-term ElReg commentards will either love or hate, from back in 2018. Needless to say, the specs have changed a trifle in the last couple years.

    1. msobkow Bronze badge

      Re: This thing is LATE!

      You're shocked a multi-billion dollar project isn't exactly on schedule?

      Apparently you haven't been paying attention to any other big projects in the world. Late is NORMAL when dealing with things of this scope and scale.

  10. msobkow Bronze badge

    Ah, they're going to be able to run a simulation to try to see the effect of the dark matter they can't detect or measure on an imaginary model of hte universe.


    Sounds like someone is getting a new toy to play with more than doing serious work to me.

    1. msobkow Bronze badge

      But can it run Crysis with all the options enabled? :P

    2. Lars Silver badge


      We can measure the effect or we wouldn't know it exist and because we don't know what it is we call it "dark".

      Is it important or not is a bit like what the hell is the meaning of life.

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