| Forward |
Expo Home |
What is a Metacomputer?
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
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.
In theory, a metacomputer is a similarly easy-to-use assembly of distinct
computers or processors working together to tackle a single task or
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.
Eventually, the metacomputer will allow people, be they a scientist,
business person, student or health care professional, to reach out and
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
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
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.
Forward to Metacomputing: Past to Present
Return to the Metacomputer Home Page
Back to Science Expo
Copyright, (c) 1995: Board of Trustees, University of
NCSA. Last modified 10/19/95.