Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Supercomputing Government Technology

US Intel Agencies To Build Superconducting Computer 73

Posted by timothy
from the reading-minds-takes-a-lot-of-technology dept.
dcblogs writes "The Director of National Intelligence is soliciting help to develop a superconducting computer. The goal of the government's solicitation is 'to demonstrate a small-scale computer based on superconducting logic and cryogenic memory that is energy efficient, scalable, and able to solve interesting problems.' The NSA, in particular, has had a long interest in superconducting technology, but 'significant technical obstacles prevented exploration of superconducting computing,' the government said in its solicitation. Those innovations include cryogenic memory designs that allow operation of memory and logic in close proximity within the cold environment, as well as much faster switching speeds. U.S. intelligence agencies don't disclose the size of their systems, but the NSA is building a data center in Utah with a 65 MW power supply."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

US Intel Agencies To Build Superconducting Computer

Comments Filter:
  • I take it the phrase "relays clacked" is no longer useful in science fiction stories?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @12:13PM (#44488059)

    "Why Big Brother, what big eyes you have!"

    "All the better to see you with, my dear."

  • by Thaelon (250687) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @12:15PM (#44488083)

    They violated the bill of rights with their toys. They should be taken away, and the children who did it punished.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The founding fathers never intended the bill of rights to apply to the internet.

      • by Thaelon (250687) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @01:30PM (#44489253)

        The founding fathers intended that the freedoms assigned by the Bill of Rights not be superseded by technology, bureaucracy, plutarchy, or dictatorship.

      • by icebike (68054) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @01:58PM (#44489627)

        The founding fathers never intended the bill of rights to apply to the internet.

        Actually, the founding fathers never intended the bill of rights PERIOD.

        So many ordinary citizens saw the dangers of authoritarian government that some colonies refused to ratify the Constitution until the Bill of Rights was added.

        The first Bill of Rights was proposed during the convention but was defeated by a unanimous vote of the state delegations after only a brief discussion. Madison, then an opponent of a Bill of Rights, later explained the vote by calling the state bills of rights "parchment barriers" that offered only an illusion of protection against tyranny. (More prophetic words were seldom spoken.) Madison only later became in favor of the BOR.

        It wasn't till 11 states had ratified the Constitution and the first congress met that the Bill of Rights was actually added, after a bitter and protracted debate. The first 12 amendments were submitted to the states for ratification in 1789 (only 10 passed). Only after this did the holdout colonies decide to become part of the United States.

        • by chihowa (366380)

          Actually, the founding fathers never intended the bill of rights PERIOD.

          I hate to say this, but they were wrong.

          I'm completely in agreement with Hamilton's argument against appearing to enumerate rights, but those amendments are the final defenses our rights have left. The idea of people's rights being inalienable and the powers of the government coming from the people through the Constitution is long dead. The feeble pretenses of not specifically violating the Bill of Rights is all that keeps the few rights we have left intact. Without the Bill of Rights, our government would

          • by icebike (68054)

            I hate to say this, but they were wrong.

            Damn straight.

            Further, had the seen what is going on now they would have put some TEETH in the protections,
            with real penalties, instead of leaving that totally up to the discretion of some guy wearing a robe.

  • by wjcofkc (964165) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @12:22PM (#44488181)
    Ok, so I am extremely ill to the point I am dizzy and can barely read the summary. Am I so out of it that I am not seeing the link to the original article? Or did someone forget to add one yet it still made it to the front page?
  • Where's TFA?
  • what a joke (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gravis Zero (934156) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @12:23PM (#44488193)

    it's amazing that we cant seem to fund a universal healthcare system that would help sick people but we magically have all the money in the world to spy on said sick people.

    • by KalvinB (205500)

      Providing for the common defense is constitutional. Health Insurance is not.

      We should be worrying about getting our government to do the things it is supposed to do correctly instead of pretending that since we're paying for A we're entitled to B, too.

      • Re:what a joke (Score:4, Insightful)

        by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @01:41PM (#44489409) Journal
        Who said that they are not one and the same?
        We need ppl to be well so that they can fight, work, etc. WWI was stopped early due to the massive disease issues (esp. flu) and the inability of the nations to have sustained war. However, other wars have been started over resources and perceptions of being able to take on some other nation.
        Doing a minimal national health care such as O'care is not all that horrible, esp. since it actually is CHEAPER to us than what we had.
        Incidentally, that is also why top generals in the military back taking actions on AGW. They would rather not have to go to war in the future. Yet, it is so odd that so many neo-con types want to allow AGW to continue and do not care about future wars. I guess that is because so many of them have never been to war.
        • by stdarg (456557)

          We need ppl to be well so that they can fight, work, etc.

          That's a bullshit justification that would work for any government action regardless of how intrusive it is. We need people to have kids, so now the government gets to regulate having children? We need people to have jobs, so the government can take over any industry?

          I'm not saying Obamacare is even close to that scale, but that the heart of your argument is completely fallacious.

          Incidentally, that is also why top generals in the military back taking actions on AGW.

          How about this? Top generals should stfu about stuff they know nothing about. At the least, you shouldn't take a general's word f

        • by Rockoon (1252108)

          Who said that they are not one and the same?

          I say that they are not one and the same. I say no.

          No means no. If your force it on me, thats called rape. Get it through your heads that you are raping Americans that don't want to take part in your unconstitutional experiment in forced commerce. No means no. Its called rape. Fuck off.

      • by icebike (68054)

        Providing for the common defense is constitutional. Health Insurance is not.

        We should be worrying about getting our government to do the things it is supposed to do correctly instead of pretending that since we're paying for A we're entitled to B, too.

        Providing for the common defense? You must be delusional.

        The question today is one of defending ourselves FROM the government.

        The biggest threat to the people and the freedoms of the United States is not some imaginary external enemy. Its our own government,
        which, as has become patently obvious, we are powerless to control.

      • by manu0601 (2221348)

        Providing for the common defense is constitutional.

        But is the US following an efficient strategy in order to provide its own defense? It spends more than any nation in the world on it.

    • Re:what a joke (Score:4, Insightful)

      by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @01:11PM (#44488997)
      I've heard that countries with a more homogenous demographic spend more on social welfare programs, while citizens in countries with diversity are more stingy with what they want their taxes spent on. And of course the spy programs are supposed to defend us against non-european foreigners.

      It's us vs them in the minds of many voters. "You don't look like me, so you must be bad in some way. You're out to bomb me or you want a check from the government to spend on drugs. Either way, I want my tax dollars to protect me from you, not help you."

      To me, that's the most depressing thing about American politics, and the only way I can think it will change is to wait until most of the current citizens die out and hope subsequent generations are smarter than that.
      • by icebike (68054)

        That's right, lets play the race card again.

        • Either you missed my point or you don't understand what the "race card" is. Playing the race card means exploiting accusations of being racist. I wasn't trying to exploit anything, just explain American politics. And I'm not calling anyone racist for being opposed to obamacare.
  • by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @12:25PM (#44488211)
    I am about to ask a very naiive question so please bear with me. Interconnects aside, is an ideal transistor permitted by theory? That is, 0 resistance when closed and "infinite" resistance when open? (Surely not the latter, since arcing could occur even in a vacuum). And while we're at it, it should not require any current to hold the transistor open or shut once it is switched. And should be infinitely fast :)

    There must be a divide by 0 in there somewhere, it just doesn't seem like the universe would permit computation without creating some entropy.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You don't need infinite resistance insulators if there is a path with 0 resistance (as long as its not saturated). Also, there are way better insulators than vacuum.

      However there always will be some losses: if you want to represent a bit, it must require some switching energy, or it will thermally get switched. This is where the massive gain from being very cold comes from: you can have way lower energy bit representations.

      There is also always some capacitance, and connecting a low bit to a high bit is much

    • by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalker@gmDALIail.com minus painter> on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @12:50PM (#44488629) Journal

      http://spectrum.ieee.org/semiconductors/design/superconductor-logic-goes-lowpower [ieee.org]

      It appears that "logic" is done through wave form cancellation.

      You have a waveform, if you pass through the same point an inverse waveform you cancel out the waveforms and end up with a 0, or a matches wave form will amplify the signal giving you a 1. Though, no, I don't fully understand how this is used for computation, it doesn't appear that they know either.

      • by bertok (226922)

        They're probably using Rapid Single Flux Quantum [wikipedia.org] (RSFQ), which isn't really a "quantum" computer logic, but is very fast and very low power.

        It's the latter property that is of interest for making supercomputers. One of the biggest performance limitations is latency, which is caused by the speed of light delay between processors. Moving processors closer reduces the delay, but increases the specific power until there is just no practical way to cool the computer and it overheats.

        Superconducting logics like R

  • 'significant technical obstacles prevented exploration of superconducting computing,

    Those "significant technical obstacles" haven't prevented people from creating super-cooled computers in their mom's garages. I have to wonder how the NSA missed that one. Especially since two minutes with Google will show you plenty and it's my understanding they've already built several "super computers" to download, store, and analyze the whole internet, all of our phone calls, and blah blah, yeah.

    More likely, the obstacles were solved years ago, and now that everyone else has too, they don't have to kee

  • The best I can find, since there IS NO TFA TO READ, is an IARPA solicitation from 2010/2011.

    http://www.iarpa.gov/Programs/sso/solicitation_safe1007.html [iarpa.gov]

    Slashdot editing has not only gone downhill, it has hit bottom and started to dig.

  • The Director of National Intelligence is soliciting help to develop a superconducting computer. The goal of the government's solicitation is 'to demonstrate a small-scale computer based on superconducting logic and cryogenic memory that is energy efficient, scalable, and able to solve interesting problems

    '...such as rooting out the final vestigages of freedom and privacy.'

  • by aaaaaaargh! (1150173) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @12:44PM (#44488501)

    ... anything with "NSA" in its name that comes from the US government consists of half-truths, lies and deliberate disinformation.

  • Set the old time machine to the 1950s!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryotron [wikipedia.org]

    • But like a fault-current limiter, but with a separate control conductor to generate the field. Couldn't switch a high load with it though, for obvious reasons.

    • Set the old time machine to the 1950s!

      Sure, if you'll pay the electric bill for the 1.21GW (or just tell me what corner drug store I can buy plutonium from).

  • TFA doesn't seem to mention it by name, but it sounds like this is an attempt to build a computer based on rapid single flux quantum principles.

    Basically, you replace transistors with things called "Josephson junctions", and use short (picosecond-range) bursts of electricity instead of continuous DC current. Josephson junctions are a quantum phenomenon that happens in superconductors, hence the Q in RSFQ, but the computation itself is traditional logic, not quantum weirdness. That's why it needs to be cryog

  • the Minds of Iain M. Banks which partly run in hyperspace to get around this pesky speed of light limit when processing things.

    OK, that's all.

  • That is so 1990's.

Your own mileage may vary.

Working...