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Japan builds world’s most powerful supercomputer

A Japanese computer has taken first place on the Top 500 supercomputer list, ending China’s reign at the top after just six months. At 8.16 petaflops, the K computer is more powerful than the next five systems combined.

The K computer’s performance was measured using 68,544 SPARC64 VIIIfx CPUs each with eight cores, for a total of 548,352 cores, almost twice as many as any other system on the Top500 list. The computer is still under construction, and when it enters service in November 2012 will have more than 80,000 SPARC64 VIIIfx CPUs according to its manufacturer, Fujitsu.

Japan’s ascension to the top means that the Chinese Tianhe-1A supercomputer, which took the number 1 position in November last year, is now in second spot with its 2.57 petaflops. But China continues to grow the number of systems it has on the list, up from 42 to 62 systems. The change at the top also means that Jaguar, built for the US Department of Energy (DOE), is bumped down to third place.

The latest iteration of the bi-annual list was released Monday at the 2011 International Supercomputing Conference.

Unlike other recent supercomputers, the K computer doesn’t use graphics processors or other accelerators. It uses the most power, but is also one of the most energy efficient systems on the list, according to Top500.org. The supercomputer is installed at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS) in Kobe. When complete, it is intended to run at over 10 petaflops.

This is the first time Japan has had the most powerful supercomputer since the country’s Earth Simulator was surpassed by the DOE’s IBM BlueGene/L and by Nasa’s Columbia in November 2004.

For the first time, all of the top 10 systems achieved performance over 1 petaflop, although they are the only systems on the list that reach that level. The US has five systems in the top 10, Japan and China have two each and France has one.

The DOE’s Roadrunner, the first system to break the petaflop barrier in June 2008, is now in tenth place. The performance of computers on the list is measured using the Linpack benchmark, a set of routines that solve linear equations.

The last system on the new list was at position 262 six months ago, meaning almost 48 percent of the list has changed in the last six months, and the turnover rate has steadily increased during the last few lists, according to Top500.org which publishes the list. While performance at the top is advancing by leaps and bounds, movements lower down the list are more modest. The entry point for the top 100 increased to 88.92 teraflops from 75.76 teraflops six months ago.

IBM is the dominant manufacturer on the list with 213 systems in the Top 500, compared to HP with 153.

Intel continues to provide the processors for a majority of the systems on list, followed by AMD and IBM. Intel’s Westmere processors are now used by 178 systems, up from 56 systems 6 months ago.

The Top 500 list is compiled by Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim, Erich Strohmaier and Horst Simon of NERSC/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee.

The Billabong Big Wave Flotation Wetsuit Is a Game Changer

 

Earlier this week Billabong unveiled an innovative survival wetsuit. Complete with a self-inflating bladder, it’s a pretty bold new step forward in surfwear. The idea is the brainchild of Shane Dorian — one of the best big wave surfer in the world — who almost drowned under a turbulent swell at the Maverick’s, a notorious cold-water break near San Francisco. Billabong’s new wetsuit works in a similar fashion to the airbags used backcountry skiing avalanche survival backpacks; a surfer in troubled waters pulls a ripcord, causing a flotation bladder in the suit to immediately inflate. The suit then acts as a life vest and quickly pulls the surfer to safety at the surface of the water. So… How did this fancy new device work for Dorian?

 

via a Billabong press release:

 

The most public demonstration of the Billabong V1 suit occurred on March 15 of this year when Dorian and a small group of top big wave surfers paddled into record-breaking waves at Jaws on the island of Maui in Hawaii. Formerly considered a spot so difficult to ride that a jet ski tow-in assist was necessary, Dorian caught an amazing 57-foot wave on that day, winning both the Monster Paddle and Monster Tube categories of the 2011 Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards. When Dorian pulled into the biggest tube of all time and failed to come out, he was pounded by the wave and driven deep underwater, where he deployed the Billabong V1 inflation mechanism. He rocketed to the surface and climbed back onto his surfboard, paddling off to the channel with a conspicuous hump on his back, clearly visible to the numerous photographers on hand.

Turn Your Home Router Into a Super-Powered Router with DD-WRT

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Wireless is everywhere and routers are the force that makes it happen, so why not supercharge yours to take proper advantage of it? DD-WRT will let you boost your router’s range, add features, and more.

DD-WRT has a ton of features—more than we can cover in this guide, which is focused on helping you get your router upgraded. Stay tuned, as we’ll go into more depth in a couple more days on all the great things you can do with it, but even if you don’t use the additional features, DD-WRT is worth installing to make your router work better.

What Is DD-WRT?

netgear wnr2000v2

Here’s our router. Behold: the Netgear WNR2000, revision 2. It’s a mighty fine one, too, but it’s still not the best. Why, exactly? Your router is only as good as its firmware, the software that makes it tick. When you buy a router from Linksys/Cisco, Netgear, D-Link, or others, you’re bound to their software. It’s a nice arrangement; you respect their limitations, and they promise to help with your problems. But what if your warranty’s expired, or you want to shuck their limitations? Maybe you want to take your hardware and push it to its most extreme limits. That’s where DD-WRT steps in.

DD-WRT is an open-source alternative firmware for routers. Its software unlocks features that aren’t present on all routers: static routing, VPN, repeating functions, the list goes on. It also unlocks settings that aren’t accessible normally, like antenna power and overclocking.

Router Support

dd-wrt website 1

Turning your home router into an almost professional-level tool is a great project that has one major caveat: support. Not all routers are built or designed the same way. Even two of the same model can have different revision numbers with very different internal components. Because of this, the first step is doing plenty of research. It’s best to have a router that’s fully supported, so if you end up buying one, be sure to check the DD-WRT Supported Routers page first. Also make use of their Router Database, which will help you find particular instructions for your model and revision. Most devices have model and revision numbers on the back panel, and if there’s no revision number, it’s safe to assume that it’s 1.0.

For our purposes, the important spec to consider is NVROM, or ROM. This is where the firmware is kept, so even if your router has 16MB of RAM, it won’t work with a 4MB image of DD-WRT without at least that much ROM. Because of this, there are a few different versions of DD-WRT available at varying file sizes. Some are trimmed down to fit in smaller ROM configurations. Others are built with specific features in mind, like VPN, SD card support, or a Samba client. For more information, check out the File Versions table.

Preparation

The most important thing in any project is research. Do all of your homework for this one, because (here it comes):

DISCLAIMER: Changing your router’s firmware can result in unintentional consequences, such as “bricking.” It’s unlikely, and we’ve never had a device that couldn’t be fixed in some way, but it’s important to understand that it’s a very real possibility. Just to be clear: you assume all responsibility for anything you do; we’re not liable for anything that should go wrong.

As mentioned above, start with the Supported Devices page to see if you’ve got a DD-WRT-friendly router. If you don’t see anything specific, or even if you do, check into the Router Database. Here, you’ll find links to forum pages of those who’ve completed the process for specific models/revisions, as well as the setbacks and workarounds they’ve found. Most importantly, you’ll find links to compatible versions of firmware.

forum post

The friendly forum gave us some useful info for our particular model. Our router, the Netgear WNR2000 is revision 2, which means it’s compatible (revision 1 is not). It’s only got 4MB of ROM, so we had to stick to the mini version. We followed the download links and read up on what to do to complete the procedure in full detail.

dd-wrt website 2

Almost all sources unanimously recommend three specific things:

  1. Do a hard reset on your router before you update. This usually requires a 30/30/30 procedure.
  2. Hard wire your router when you update the firmware. NEVER over wireless.
  3. Use Internet Explorer (or Safari) unless specifically stated that other browsers are okay.

There’s a ton of reasons which the documentation will reveal to you, but the first two are written in stone, and the last has held true for almost any router, and it won’t hurt either.

Most routers have a pinhole on their back with you need to push and hold to perform a hard reset. The 30/30/30 procedure is primarily directed for devices with DD-WRT already on them, but it’s also required for some other models and won’t hurt to do anyway. It deletes the Non-Volatile RAM. From the DD-WRT website, the procedure is as follows:

  • With the unit powered on, press and hold the reset button on back of unit for 30 seconds
  • Without releasing the reset button, unplug the unit and hold reset for another 30 seconds
  • Plug the unit back in STILL holding the reset button a final 30 seconds (please note that this step can put Asus devices into recovery mode…see note below!) [Note]

This procedure should be done BEFORE and AFTER every firmware upgrade/downgrade.

Do not use configuration restore if you change firmware builds (different svn build numbers).

The Process

Hard reset, as outlined above, or per the instructions for your specific router.

hard reset router

So after our hard reset, we waited for the lights to return to normal, and we hard-wired the router to our laptop. During this phase, we turned off the wireless connection so that just the wired connection to our WRN2000 was active. This prevents any mishaps and makes it simple to connect to the web-interface through the defaults.

wired router

Next, fire up Internet Explorer and go to your router’s default page, and log in.

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Use the default username and password, usually printed on your device’s back panel or easily found on the internet.

router upgrade

Click on the Router Upgrade link.

choose image

Browse to the correct image and click Upload, and wait patiently. Very patiently. You’ll see the loading screen tell you to wait while the router reboots, and you’ll see the lights flash on and off for a while. Wait about five minutes, and err on the longer side. When you’re ready, log in to your router. DD-WRT’s IP address is 192.168.1.1, the username is ‘root’, and the password is ‘admin’.

You’ll be greeted with your brand new interface.

dd-wrt starter

UPDATE: Fellow How-To Geek writer, Aviad, pointed out that at this point, we need to do another hard reset/restore to factory default settings. This will solidify your DD-WRT installation and will prevent any issues that would come up otherwise. It’s mentioned in the block quote above, but to reiterate: perform another hard reset NOW.

If things didn’t work out, you may have had a “bad” flash. Your router may be bricked, but odds are you can recover from it in some fashion. The first place to check out is How to Recover From a Bad Flash, and the second is the DD-WRT Forum. As long as your do your homework and be precise with the instructions, you’ll be fine.

Now that you have DD-WRT on your router, here are a few other things you might find interesting:

How To Remove Advertisements with Pixelserv on DD-WRT

How To Setup a VPN Server Using a DD-WRT Router

And there’s more to come!

Remote-Controlled Superhero [Video]

Just imagine, one evening, as you’re walking around your neighborhood, you see this thing zipping past you in the sky:

Mobile phones could be charged by the power of speech

For mobile phone users, a flat battery or a lost charger are among the frustrations of modern life.

Now new research promises a way to recharge phones using nothing but the power of the human voice.

Electrical engineers have developed a new technique for turning sound into electricity, allowing a mobile to be powered up while its user holds a conversation.

The technology would also be able to harness background noise and even music to charge a phone while it is not in use.

However, there could be a downside to the innovation, if it gives people a new reason to shout into their phones as they attempt to squeeze in every extra bit of power they can.