“The Supercomputer of Things” – Have I just seen it born?


The “Internet of Things” has become a familiar term to describe a vast connected network of diverse devices: cars, servers, smart phones, cloud, smart lightbulbs, home sensors… anything really. A vast connected, distributed network of things – all with compute power.

Traditional supercomputers are basically a great big computer capable of handling computationally intensive workloads but there’s a genre of supercomputing (distributed supercomputing) whereby the workload or task is parallelised and farmed out to multiple compute nodes.

A few weeks ago I was tipped off about a distributed compute project computes.io from the stable of Octoblu’s Chris Matthieu, computes.io.

I’ve recently started working at ARM on Cortex processors, ubiquitous in mobile phones and embedded endpoints and looking at an infographic of “The Internet of Things” my mind set suddenly flipped and I realised I was probably looking at the “Supercomputer of Things”. Imagine a vast array of computational power that, when not performing its primary task, could be harnessed.

I mooted this thought with a friend and she replied… “I’m not sure I’d want someone running an application on my mobile” and indeed many would agree… but I also thought back to those screen savers of the 1990s that promised to find aliens, sequence the genome. A screensaver to cure cancer from Stanford University Folding@home (http://folding.stanford.edu/) is now one of the world’s largest distributed supercomputing projects with a capacity of 100 petaFLOPS..

And are we so precious about our own resources any more, twenty years the advice was “Don’t get into cars with strangers and don’t meet strangers off the internet”… but today we literally meet strangers on the internet to get into their cars.

What changed? … It was when Lyft/Uber had sufficient security measures in place for both parties. We all became willing to share transportation resource for mutual benefit.

I pushed Chris on what computes.io was and got the reply:

·      “It’s a worldwide supercomputer that runs everywhere and it loves ARM. Checkout my Raspberry Pi beowulf cluster powered by computes. http://beowulf.computer

It made sense with ARM based chips in practically every mobile phone and ubiquitous in embedded and smart home end-points, in every Raspberry pi, thin-clients, even datacenters etc… there’s already a massive compute capacity on ARM architecture. Computes.io supports Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android.

I’m currently working with the next generation of hardware security technologies for our processors wrapping up a range of inbuild hardware security features ensuring isolation. And you know what I think that perhaps we in processor land are building the foundations of the “Supercomputer of Things”…..

I googled “Supercomputer of Things” and strangely found no hits…. It seems so obvious… I’d highly recommend following Chris on twitter @chrismatthieu, the kind of vision that changes the world 😉

You can read more about computes.io on Chris’ blogs at:

·      https://blog.computes.io/distributed-supercomputer-mesh-network-ec8fc6a2c927?es_p=4612312

·      https://blog.computes.io/beowulf-1-powered-by-computes-io-supercomputer-cc227e85f17b

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