A peek at investable tomorrow's human-technology interface, today.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

High-Performance Computing (HPC) Cluster

I read with keen interest that Bowie State University ( 4,000 undergraduate and 1,500 graduate students), located 20 miles from Washington, D.C., recently unveiled Xseed, a high-performance computing (HPC) cluster. Xseed is a remarkable supercomputer comprising 224 dual-processor Xserve G5 servers. In June 2005, Xseed was ranked 166th in the TOP500 listing of the world’s fastest computers. That had ranked Bowie State within the top 25 universities worldwide in computational capacity. Remarkably, Xseed was built over the course of just a few months by a dozen mostly undergraduate students, under the supervision of a single computer science professor, at a cost of only US$1 million.

I was thinking about Mauritius CyberCity. What can be better than spending US$1 million to build a HPC cluster offered for the entire Mauritius? And extend the usage to researchers in the southern part of Africa? The physical location of the computer in Mauritius will symbolise Mauritius' commitment to making HPC a resource for the whole region. A supercomputing facility would encourage new areas of interdisciplinary study, stimulate new developments in R&D and facilitate distance learning through streaming media and other technologies. Mauritians and many people in southern part of Africa would have more powerful tools for creating multimedia, graphics, fine arts, video and software. Researchers in every field would have powerful new analytical tools at their disposal.

It is strategically important that with limited funds, Mauritius CyberCity should leverage them for maximum effect, in order to attract the right talent into the 'sun-sand and sea' country. There are countless worthy ways in which Mauritius can invest its budget dollars. But there is lesser alternative investment that would contribute more to the Mauritius CyberCity's standing in the global technology community, facilitate more research in all emerging fields and open more doors for collaboration than a supercomputing facility. Perhaps it is time CommerceNet can step in to recommend such a move.