Practical Technology

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I, for one, welcome our Linux Penguin, Jeopardy Overlords


“I’ll take evil, science-fiction computers for $2,000,” Alex. OK, we’re not quite there yet, but in the early going, IBM’s Watson supercomputer beat Jeopardy super-champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in a practice round. And, what is Watson running? Linux, of course.

There’s nothing surprising about that. The fastest of fast computers have long used Linux In the latest TOP 500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, 459 of the Top 500 supercomputers were running Linux.

Watson is made up of ten racks of IBM POWER 750 servers running Linux, and has 15Terabytes of RAM; 2,880 3.55GHz POWER7 processor cores and operates at 80 Teraflops. You’re not going to find one of these at your local Best Buy.

Watson isn’t just an ordinary supercomputer though crunching linear equations, the Linpack Benchmark, at ever faster speeds. By comparison, that’s easy. No, IBM has been working on Watson for almost four years on solving the problem of ‘understanding’ natural language questions.

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