Flattened Butterfly Network Lets Data Fly Through Supercomputers and Multicore Processors

Interconnect architecture allows for the most efficient routing of data, developer says

4 min read
Flattened Butterfly Network Lets Data Fly Through Supercomputers and Multicore Processors


Photo: Lee Pettet/istockphoto

16 July 2008—As both computer chips and supercomputers grow more powerful by linking together more and more processors, they risk wasting money, energy, and time by sending data among processors over inefficient routes. The amount of time a supercomputer spends shuttling data around can vary dramatically but averages between 10 percent and 30 percent. Now one Stanford engineer says he and his colleagues at supercomputer maker Cray have the most efficient scheme yet for directing all that traffic—an architecture he calls the ”flattened butterfly.”

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The Future of Deep Learning Is Photonic

Computing with light could slash the energy needs of neural networks

10 min read
Image of a computer rendering.

This computer rendering depicts the pattern on a photonic chip that the author and his colleagues have devised for performing neural-network calculations using light.

Alexander Sludds

Think of the many tasks to which computers are being applied that in the not-so-distant past required human intuition. Computers routinely identify objects in images, transcribe speech, translate between languages, diagnose medical conditions, play complex games, and drive cars.

The technique that has empowered these stunning developments is called deep learning, a term that refers to mathematical models known as artificial neural networks. Deep learning is a subfield of machine learning, a branch of computer science based on fitting complex models to data.

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