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Supercomputer “Gordon” Lives Up To Flashy Name

Aired 12/6/11 on KPBS News.

San Diego’s new supercomputer “Gordon” is one of the fastest computers in the world.

— Like his super-hero namesake "Flash Gordon,” supercomputer “Gordon” is able to process massive amounts of data in a flash - literally - on giant flash drives.

Allan Snavely, associate director of San Diego’s Supercomputer Center says Gordon analyzes data nine times faster than the supercomputer world record set last year.

“Gordon is like a data intensive computer on steroids. It can access data much faster than any other computer in the world. It does 36 million of what we call I-O operations per second,” he said.

Snavely also said the supercomputer is able to process enormous amounts of data at breakneck speed to enable processing of giant amounts of information. That includes everything from tracking pollution flow from the Tijuana river to analyzing traffic patterns in San Diego.

It’s too much simultaneous data for most computers to access, said Snavely.

“One of the little dirty secrets that exist in the computer industry is that it’s easier to gather data and store it on big disk and archive it than it is to actually access it and make sense out of it," he said.

Supercomputer Gordon will be available with some limitations to San Diego’s government, local businesses and academia on January 1, 2012.

A $20-million grant from the National Science Foundation paid for Gordon’s hardware and cost of operation.

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