Re: Hardware Progress

From: Brian Atkins (
Date: Fri Jun 22 2001 - 13:21:56 MDT

Dani Eder wrote:
> The latest list of the top 500 supercomputers in the
> world has just been published ( The
> sum of all 500 machines now is at 108 Tflops, which,
> using Moravec's estimate, is equivalent to 1.08 human
> brain power. This is a 23% increase from the previous
> list published 6 months ago.
> There is a nice graph of the trends at:
> Note that the time for the N=500 machine to reach the
> previous power of all top 500 machines is about 12
> years. Using N=500 as a proxy for a machine that
> an AI project can be expected to get it's hands on,
> we're looking at 2013 for a 'possible singularity
> date'. Another 7 years brings the N=500 machine to
> the level of an average desktop PC. So if asked for
> the expected date of the singularity, I would now
> give a range of:
> Earliest: Now (ganging up many top supercomputers
> or SETI@home type distributed system)
> Early: 2013 (Research AI project gets it's hands
> on 100 Tflop machine)
> Late: 2020 (If it takes a full neural simulation
> level of computational power = 3000 Tflop)
> Latest: 2027 (Full neural simulation on a PC, and
> no acceleration in Moore's law until then)
> On the related issue of how much will a machine cost,

Thanks for the update Dani. Personally I feel that your dates should
be moved up a bit. For instance, we expect Blue Gene-level hardware to
be available circa 2005. The development cost of this project is said
to be $100m, but if you wanted to buy one for yourself it would be less.
And if you are saying we only need 1/10th of its power for Moravec's
estimate, then the cost could be in the $2 to 5m range? Then consider
that we could develop a seed prototype on a smaller system, and then
rent some time on a supercomputer to run the final tests. So the actual
costs for this might drop below $1m in the 2005-2010 timeframe.

Brian Atkins
Director, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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