No, I’m not talking about a version of Android - I’m actually referring to real ice cream.
Apparently Nvidia's efforts to create inexpensive super computers have resulted in something we can finally sink our teeth into - quite literally.
You see, we often struggle with explaining the real benefits of super computers.
Sure, they can map and model the galaxy to create what has to be the slowest and most pointless accident avoidance system in history - as we now know that our galaxy will collide with another a few billion years after we are extinct.
And yes, we can tell also where earthquakes are likely to occur, we just can’t accurately predict them in windows tighter than 100 years, at least, not yet. Granted, there are thousands of other projects these high-powered systems are used for but most are very obscure, represent parts of far more complex issues, and have little to do with the way the average person lives his or her life.
But better ice cream, while obviously not as important as predicting earth quakes, is something they can do today with results that are far more immediate.
Better Ice Cream
Now taking 1,872 processors and focusing them on improving a summer treat that is very popular at the moment (I can almost hear the ice cream truck in the distance) may seem like overkill but this is quite a competitive business. Indeed, if you can significantly improve the taste, texture, or shelf life of the product the result would not only be worth billions, but could also serve as a fun topic of conversation for your children - without prompting them to doze off in the middle of the discussion.
Interestingly enough, the underlying effort was to improve "soft matter" but the actual outcome was improved ice cream. That's right - video game designers can now stand proud and say they make ice cream better and maybe even offer you a taste. Then again, maybe not. Video game designers are so last month anyway.
Other Soft Matter
As noted above, all this computer power was originally harnessed with the express intention of improving soft matter, which includes engine oil, paints, ketchup, mayonnaise, soap, shampoo, and yes, even Bill Cosby’s favorite pudding.
But in all seriousness, the soft matter initiative will likely have a broad impact on how well your car runs (important to boys about the time they find they can’t afford to have someone else work on their car and that dad isn’t paying for repairs) and to girls when, who am I kidding, you likely still won’t get dates by announcing you are a super computer specialist.
On the other hand, a girl who could talk about oil and the impact on cars would be far hotter than one who only chats about mathematical theory or other more traditional aspects of super-computing - unless, of course, the guy is a role model for the actors on the Big Bang Theory.
Dating aside, given how Nvidia has driven down the cost of supercomputers though various initiatives we are certainly likely to see more practical near term applications of the technology related to things we eat, drive, live in and wear.
For example, we'll eventually be able to build houses in low-lying areas that can survive floods and in tornado prone locales that can survive massive storms (granted Disney showcased this back in the 1950s but who’d ever listen to the guy who created Mickey Mouse?)
Wrapping Up: More to Come
What this really illustrates is how the cost of supercomputing has dropped so significantly the technology can easily be applied to relevant, tangible topics, rather than just huge research programs and defense projects. This means better swag for all of us, and I'm still hoping for that true house of the future to be built one day soon.
In the meantime, better ice cream is a good initial step - especially on this hot summer day. I mean here in Silicon Valley it will likely get to the 80s today with low humidity, a great day to sit outside and enjoy a cone of supercomputer ice cream.