Cloud Computing's Killer App: Gaming

AMD's proposed online supercomputer will handle gaming graphics so your cellphone won't have to

3 min read

In recognition of the huge importance of graphics and gaming to the future of computing, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), of Sunnyvale, Calif., is building the fastest commercial supercomputer in the world and selling its use to makers of online games. When it’s ready, in the second half of 2009, it will manage a thousand million million floating-point operations per second—a petaflop. That will put it on a par with Roadrunner, the U.S. Department of Energy’s most powerful machine.

The idea is to compute a game’s graphics, compress them, and send them out over the Internet so that online gamers can run the results on platforms, such as cellphones, that are too computationally puny to render the graphics on their own. Game makers would write their software for the supercomputer—rather than for a PC, smart phone, or other platform—and then rent computer time and bandwidth on AMD’s machine. It’s a particularly striking example of the shift in the balance of power away from the platform and into the network, or cloud—hence the computer’s name, the Fusion Render Cloud.

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An IBM Quantum Computer Will Soon Pass the 1,000-Qubit Mark

The Condor processor is just one quantum-computing advance slated for 2023

4 min read
This photo shows a woman working on a piece of apparatus that is suspended from the ceiling of the laboratory.

A researcher at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center examines some of the quantum hardware being constructed there.

Connie Zhou/IBM

IBM’s Condor, the world’s first universal quantum computer with more than 1,000 qubits, is set to debut in 2023. The year is also expected to see IBM launch Heron, the first of a new flock of modular quantum processors that the company says may help it produce quantum computers with more than 4,000 qubits by 2025.

This article is part of our special report Top Tech 2023.

While quantum computers can, in theory, quickly find answers to problems that classical computers would take eons to solve, today’s quantum hardware is still short on qubits, limiting its usefulness. Entanglement and other quantum states necessary for quantum computation are infamously fragile, being susceptible to heat and other disturbances, which makes scaling up the number of qubits a huge technical challenge.

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