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Boffin Wants To Build Supercomputer Out Of iPad 2 Tablets

Dr Jack Dongarra, one of the computer scientists in charge of maintaining the list of the 500 fastest supercomputers in the world, is looking at ways to make a supercomputer out of the iPad 2.

The researcher told the New York Times that although price performance would not be that great, the iPad 2 would be interesting from a power consumption perspective.

He also mentioned some challenges that might crop up, like the fact that they might have to be jail-broken and then forced to use wireless connectivity for inter-iPad communication.

Should the endeavour succeed, it would provide a very power-friendly cluster that may even run on batteries for a change.

According to Linpack, the benchmark application used by Dongarra to gauge supercomputers, the iPad 2 reaches up to 1.65 GFLOPs which would put it almost on a par with the four-core version of the Cray 2 super computer which was the top of the range supercomputer back in 1985 at a cost of around $18 million.

There are cheaper and potentially better ways of building supercomputers out of commonly available parts. Scientists have been tinkering with clusters of Sony Playstation 3 gaming consoles for years, but the widespread availability of cheap ARM-based Cortex-A8 devices like the £50 Motorola Flipout, means that smartphones rather than tablets may be where supercomputers will be heading.