Cray doubles manufacturing capacity

Cray Inc. has doubled down on Chippewa Falls, and a tangible sign of that is now on display just off Seymour Cray Sr. Boulevard.

That’s where a Cray sign in front of a building at 1955 Olson Drive signifies the company’s new supercomputer manufacturing facility, just a couple of miles away from its original one at 1050 Lowater Rd.

Recent upgrades at that primary manufacturing site, coupled with the new facility here, have essentially doubled Cray’s manufacturing capacity to approximately 213,000 square feet.

The move assures that Cray’s supercomputers will be made for years to come in the city where Seymour Cray launched the company back in 1972.

“For more than 40 years now, we have enjoyed a proud and storied history with Chippewa Falls, and the opening of our new manufacturing facility affirms our commitment to building our supercomputers in a town that is synonymous with Cray,” said Peter Ungaro, president and CEO of Cray.

“I am pleased our new facility is now up and running, and producing Cray supercomputers that are proudly made in Chippewa Falls.”

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Two local tech start-ups win grants for super-computer program

Peter Qian has come up with a way to get new industrial products on the market a lot faster.

Dennis Bahr is working on a neutron camera that will do a better job checking manufactured equipment for flaws and screening items for explosives.

The two Madison-area men and the young companies they have started were among six named last week to receive Computational Science Challenge Grants to work with Milwaukee Institute, a nonprofit computational research center founded in 2007.

This is the first year for the contest, with a $250,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and a matching grant for $250,000 worth of support services funded by Milwaukee private equity firm Mason Wells.

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Energy Efficient Brain Simulator Outperforms Supercomputers

Neurogrid brain simulator ushers in new level of research

April 24, 2013

In November 2012, IBM announced that it had used the Blue Gene/Q Sequoia supercomputer to achieve an unprecedented simulation of more than 530 billion neurons. The Blue Gene/Q Sequoia accomplished this feat thanks to its blazing fast speed; it clocks in at over 16 quadrillion calculations per second. In fact, it currently ranks as the second-fastest supercomputer in the world.

But, according to Kwabena Boahen, Ph.D., the Blue Gene still doesn't compare to the computational power of the brain itself.

"The brain is actually able to do more calculations per second than even the fastest supercomputer," says Boahen, a professor at Stanford University, director of the Brains in Silicon research laboratory and an NSF Faculty Early Career grant recipient.

That's not to say the brain is faster than a supercomputer. In fact, it's actually much slower. The brain can do more calculations per second because it's "massively parallel," meaning networks of neurons are working simultaneously to solve a great number of problems at once. Traditional computing platforms, no matter how fast, operate sequentially, meaning each step must be complete before the next step is begun.

Boahen works at the forefront of a field called neuromorphic engineering, which seeks to replicate the brain's extraordinary computational abilities using innovative hardware and software applications. His laboratory's most recent accomplishment is a new computing platform called Neurogrid, which simulates the activity of 1 million neurons.

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Environmentally safe electronics that also vanish in the body

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Physicians and environmentalists alike could soon be using a new class of electronic devices: small, robust and high performance, yet also biocompatible and capable of dissolving completely in water – or in bodily fluids.

Researchers at the University of Illinois, in collaboration with Tufts University and Northwestern University, have demonstrated a new type of biodegradable electronics technology that could introduce new design paradigms for medical implants, environmental monitors and consumer devices.

“We refer to this type of technology as transient electronics,” said John A. Rogers, the Lee J. Flory-Founder Professor of Engineering at the U. of I., who led the multidisciplinary research team. “From the earliest days of the electronics industry, a key design goal has been to build devices that last forever – with completely stable performance. But if you think about the opposite possibility – devices that are engineered to physically disappear in a controlled and programmed manner – then other, completely different kinds of application opportunities open up.”

Three application areas appear particularly promising. First are medical implants that perform important diagnostic or therapeutic functions for a useful amount of time and then simply dissolve and resorb in the body. Second are environmental monitors, such as wireless sensors that are dispersed after a chemical spill, that degrade over time to eliminate any ecological impact. Third are consumer electronic systems or sub-components that are compostable, to reduce electronic waste streams generated by devices that are frequently upgraded, such as cellphones or other portable devices.

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Who Really Invented the Internet?

By L. GORDON CROVITZ

Contrary to legend, it wasn't the federal government, and the Internet had nothing to do with maintaining communications during a war.

A telling moment in the presidential race came recently when Barack Obama said: "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." He justified elevating bureaucrats over entrepreneurs by referring to bridges and roads, adding: "The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all companies could make money off the Internet."

It's an urban legend that the government launched the Internet. The myth is that the Pentagon created the Internet to keep its communications lines up even in a nuclear strike. The truth is a more interesting story about how innovation happens—and about how hard it is to build successful technology companies even once the government gets out of the way.

For many technologists, the idea of the Internet traces to Vannevar Bush, the presidential science adviser during World War II who oversaw the development of radar and the Manhattan Project. In a 1946 article in The Atlantic titled "As We May Think," Bush defined an ambitious peacetime goal for technologists: Build what he called a "memex" through which "wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified."

That fired imaginations, and by the 1960s technologists were trying to connect separate physical communications networks into one global network—a "world-wide web." The federal government was involved, modestly, via the Pentagon's Advanced Research Projects Agency Network. Its goal was not maintaining communications during a nuclear attack, and it didn't build the Internet. Robert Taylor, who ran the ARPA program in the 1960s, sent an email to fellow technologists in 2004 setting the record straight: "The creation of the Arpanet was not motivated by considerations of war. The Arpanet was not an Internet. An Internet is a connection between two or more computer networks."

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A response piece from the LA Times.


Northwestern Researchers Create “Rubber-Band Electronics”

For people with heart conditions and other ailments that require monitoring, life can be complicated by constant hospital visits and time-consuming tests. But what if much of the testing done at hospitals could be conducted in the patient’s home, office, or car?

Scientists foresee a time when medical monitoring devices are integrated seamlessly into the human body, able to track a patient’s vital signs and transmit them to his doctors. But one major obstacle continues to hinder technologies like these: electronics are too rigid.

Researchers at the McCormick School of Engineering, working with a team of scientists from the United States and abroad, have recently developed a design that allows electronics to bend and stretch to more than 200 percent their original size, four times greater than is possible with today’s technology. The key is a combination of a porous polymer and liquid metal.

A paper about the findings, “Three-dimensional Nanonetworks for Giant Stretchability in Dielectrics and Conductors,” was published June 26 in the journal Nature Communications.

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Rewriting Quantum Chips with a Beam of Light

Laser Technique Developed by CCNY and Berkeley Researchers Brings Ultrafast Computing Closer to Reality

The promise of ultrafast quantum computing has moved a step closer to reality with a technique to create rewritable computer chips using a beam of light. Researchers from The City College of New York (CCNY) and the University of California Berkeley (UCB) used light to control the spin of an atom’s nucleus in order to encode information.

The technique could pave the way for quantum computing, a long-sought leap forward toward computers with processing speeds many times faster than today’s. The group published their results on June 26 in “Nature Communications.”

Current electronic devices are approaching the upper limits in processing speed, and they rely on etching a pattern into a semiconductor to create a chip or integrated circuit. These patterns of interconnections serve as highways to shuttle information around the circuit, but there is a drawback.

“Once the chip is printed, it can only be used one way,” explained Dr. Jeffrey Reimer, UCB professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and the study co-author.

The team – including CCNY Professor of Physics Carlos Meriles and PhD graduate students Jonathan King of UCB and Yunpu Li of CCNY– saw a remedy for these problems in the emerging sciences of spintronics and quantum computing.

They have developed a technique to use laser light to pattern the alignment of “spin” within atoms so that the pattern can be rewritten on the fly. Such a technique may one day lead to rewritable spintronic circuits.

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Tech trend brings growth for start-up

By Guy Boulton of the Journal Sentinel

When Jim Prekop joined TeraMedica Healthcare Technology as president and CEO in 2005, the Wauwatosa company's investors asked him first to determine whether closing the start-up would be the best course.

The company opted to push ahead, and its investors now may be rewarded for their patience as the market recognizes the need for TeraMedica's software.

TeraMedica sells software for managing the millions of diagnostic images stored throughout health care systems.

The size and number of those images - digital X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, mammograms, ultrasounds - have grown exponentially with advances in technology.

They typically are stored on different systems in various departments and locations throughout a health care system. Yet they need to be accessible through the electronic health records now taking hold throughout health care.

TeraMedica's software enables those images to be stored and managed - more efficiently and for less money - from one central repository. That repository, in turn, can be linked to an electronic health record.

The company, founded in 2001, knew that image storage would become a headache at some point for health systems. But it acknowledges that it was a bit ahead of the market.

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Scientists Untangle Tough Quantum Computing Knot

By Richard Adhikari

TechNewsWorld

New research may provide the answers to overcoming one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of the development of quantum computing: quantum decoherence. The experiment used molecular magnets, which suppress extrinsic decoherence. Extrinsic decoherence was reduced to the point where it was no longer observable, said USC's Susumu Takahashi.

A team of scientists has achieved what might prove to be a breakthrough in quantum computing.

The group has managed to partially suppress quantum decoherence, one of the major obstacles to quantum computing, by using crystalline molecular magnets.

Decoherence, which is a much-debated topic, is believed to be the loss of information from a system into the environment that fixes a system into one state.

By doing so, decoherence negates quantum states, which exist because of the entanglement of multiple electrons and molecules.

Think of it this way: A fishing net, where all the strands are linked to each other by knots, is like a quantum state. Separating out a strand by cutting the knots binding it to other strands is what happens when decoherence sets in.

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Big Blue: 100 years making things compute

By Michael Hill and Jordan Robertson, Associated Press

Endicott, N.Y. - Google, Apple and Facebook get all the attention. But the forgettable everyday tasks of technology - saving a file on your laptop, swiping your ATM card to get 40 bucks, scanning a gallon of milk at the checkout line - that's all IBM.

International Business Machines turns 100 on Thursday without much fanfare. But its much younger competitors owe a lot to Big Blue.

After all, where would Groupon be without the supermarket bar code? Or Google without the mainframe computer?

"They were kind of like a cornerstone of that whole enterprise that has become the heart of the computer industry in the U.S.," says Bob Djurdjevic, a former IBM employee and president of Annex Research.

IBM dates to June 16, 1911, when three companies that made scales, punch-clocks for work and other machines merged to form the Computing Tabulating Recording Co. The modern-day name followed in 1924.

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