Cross section of the 14 TeV ATLAS detector relying on the UW processor - Courtesy CERN

What good is a particle accelerator if you can't take pictures?

Come this April, CERN will get another weapon in the search
for the infamous Higgs-Boson particle. When particles collide in a
particle accelerator, the collision occurs so briefly that scientists can only
infer what takes place during the collision by analyzing the remaining
components left afterwards. Analyzing that data on the fly takes
a lot of calculations, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison has just the
solution; a $6M USD grid array processor that can analyze a trillion bits per
second.

The "Regional Calorimeter Trigger" will have the most throughput of
any single application processor array to date when it is installed in CERN's
Large Hadron Collider this April. The project took almost a decade to
complete with dozens of test trials across various particle accelerations all
over the world.

1 trillion bits per second doesnt sound that much to me. For example a X1900XT has 48 ps units , roughly saying of 128bit each, and their frequency at 650Mhz. Hence processing rate in bits is 48*128*650Mhz=3993600Mbits/s=3993.6 billion=3.9936 trillions bits per second that is about 4 times the computational power of that processor..
Of course the term processing in each case may differ... X1900XT units can add, multiply or multiply and add at each cycle. I dont know what kind of processing that CPU would do.

What you need to remember when looking at European scientific articles is that the real (or long) definition of a trillion is 10 to the power 18 rather than the American shortend 10 to the power 12 (anyone know how to do superscript?). So you need another 6 zeros! ie, 0.0000039936 trillion bits for the Radeon X1900XT.

Hm, the article seemed for an American scientific article as it speaks of wisconsin-maddison university. However i wasnt aware of the ambiguity of the term trillion.

Yeah, the thing that matters is that its for CERN, which is in Switzerland :-) The confusion over the naming of large numbers starts at a billion and then just continues! In Britain we take a billion to mean a million million, then a trillion is a million million million... There are loads of other names to fill in the bits between.

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