Supercomputer names are as much a part of High Performance Computing as the hardware and software itself. You just can’t build one and not name it!
What Are Supercomputer Names All About?
To be memorable, supercomputer names should be single words, evoking something powerful and significant from the outside world. Most of these systems are one of a kind, permanently installed in some specific site. A unique name adds the human touch to an otherwise robotic stack of cores, GPUs, cables, and software. Here’s our take on 5 cool supercomputer names and the story behind them…
While not quite as fast as its cousin Titan, its name honors one of the greatest figures in computing history: Admiral Grace Hopper. She was a true pioneer in the field, developing the first compiler in history, among many other significant achievements. Admiral Hopper also introduced us to one of the most endearing (and dreaded) terms of all time: the computer “bug”. In 1947, her associates discovered a moth stuck in a relay of her Mark II computer. Even though we no longer use mechanical parts in our systems, the name obviously stuck. Remains of this infamous moth can be found at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.
For its part, Hopper (the supercomputer) was ranked 28th in the world at the end of 2013. It’s no slouch, and no doubt owes a lot to the amazing lady it’s named after.
While not quite the coolest supercomputer name in Texas (more about that later), it’s still worth mentioning. At over 5 PetaFLOPS, it was ranked 7th in the world at the end of 2013. Stampede reminds us of the power of a thundering herd of longhorns charging in unison, leaving tremors and dust in their wake. That’s about right for a supercomputer that lives Austin, Texas.
Does this supercomputer name refer to the Roman god of fire, or to the great planet Mr. Spock hails from? Since it was built by geeks, it might just be the latter! Vulcan cranks out over 4 PetaFLOPS at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and was ranked #9 in the world at the end of 2013.
Computing legends, herds of angry cattle, gods – why not supercontinents? Pangea (the continent) once encompassed all the land on Earth in one contiguous mass. This meant you could walk from Alaska to Australia if you really needed the exercise. It began to break apart 200 million years ago and gave birth to the 7 continents we have today – tiny pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle in comparison.
Pangea (the supercomputer) is a 2 PetaFLOPS beast ranked 14th in the world at the end of 2013.
Last but certainly not least, there’s JARVICE. This is the other Texas beast, not yet ranked, but certainly with the coolest supercomputer name of all. Its mission is to change the cloud from a bunch of virtual machines to a streamlined processing system that just takes your data and gives you back the results. There’s no need to worry about “spinning up” or shutting down “instances” or anything else that would get in the way of your computing tasks. Just feed it your problem, and out comes the solution. All you pay for is what you use.
JARVICE is an acronym for Just Applications Running Vigorously In a Cloud Environment, and was inspired by Tony Stark’s JARVIS system in Iron Man (sort of his private Watson). Additionally, in the movie the Avengers, Mr. Stark brushes of the complexity of solving a large computational problem by simply offering to push it down to the “Homer” machine’s 600 TeraFLOPS for processing. Legend says that when Nimbix co-founder and CEO Steve Hebert saw the movie, he practically jumped out of his seat yelling “that’s Nimbix!” in a crowded movie theater. Shouldn’t all computers work that way? Have a huge problem to solve? No problem really, just send it the data, and wait for the solution to come back.
Other than JARVICE, what do you think are the coolest supercomputer names out there?