Definition

desktop supercomputer (personal supercomputer)

Part of the Computing fundamentals glossary:

Desktop supercomputer (or personal supercomputer) is a term used to describe any exceptionally powerful computer that can be placed at a single workstation. Currently available desktop supercomputers include the Cray CX1, the Nvidia Tesla and the Asus ECS 1000.

The most common approach to desktop supercomputing is the combination of multiple microprocessors into a single machine. This approach is called multiprocessing, coprocessing, or parallel processing. In one method, numerous microprocessors are connected in a manner similar to the way the individual computers are connected in a local area network (LAN). This arrangement allows each processor to work on a different part of a large task.

According to some experts, cloud computing will make it possible to turn any system into a supercomputer by allowing the user to purchase as much processing power as desired.

As it becomes possible to fit more processing power into even more compact spaces, smaller devices may be considered supercomputers. According to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, current mobile phones could qualify:

"A billion people on the planet are carrying supercomputers in their hands. Now you think of them as mobile phones, but that's not what they really are. They're video cameras. They're GPS devices. They're powerful computers. They have powerful screens. They can do many many different things, and oh, by the way, you can talk on them too. That's what the mobile phone of today is."

This was last updated in May 2010
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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