Expo/Computation/The Metacomputer

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What is a Metacomputer?

What is a Metacomputer Banner

When you switched on your razor or blow dryer or toaster this morning, you probably gave no thought to the original source of your electricity. You didn't have to select a generator with adequate capacity; nor did you consider the gauge of wire used to connect the outlet or whether the power lines are underground or on poles. You were using a network of electric power sophisticated enough to route the electrons across hundreds of miles, and easy enough for a child to use.

The Parts of a Metacomputer

In theory, a metacomputer is a similarly easy-to-use assembly of distinct computers or processors working together to tackle a single task or set of problems. The metacomputer may include one grouping of computers especially suited for data analysis, another for bringing the data to life through interactive graphical displays, and an instrument such as a telescope or microscope. The machines and/or instruments may be located the same building, or separated by thousands of miles, yet their capabilities appear on the user's workstation screen as one system.

Why do We Need a Metacomputer?

Eventually, the metacomputer will allow people, be they a scientist, engineer, business person, student or health care professional, to reach out and get the computational resources they need, with the speed and memory their applications require, whether they're simulating the evolution of a tornado, using remote databases and images to diagnose disease, or doing research for a high school science project--all from their own desktop workstations.

Who will make the national metacomputer a reality? Building an easy-to-use, transcontinental network of computers poses a tremendous challenge, one that requires the cooperation of technology research and development centers across the country. Partly to that end, several state and federal high performance computing centers have been exploring ways of integrating some of their diverse computational resources.

The Metacomputer: A Reality Check

A coast-to-coast metacomputer? Can it be for real? Judge for yourself by exploring the state-of-the-art in computing and virtual reality at Supercomputing '95. You wouldn't be alone if you thought that the future is now -- though, many challenges remain, the age of metacomputing is already upon us.

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Copyright, (c) 1995: Board of Trustees, University of Illinois


NCSA. Last modified 10/19/95.