All About The Innovation (11/27/02)

We're going to kick off the long holiday weekend the very bestest way we know how: with another fascinating, edge-of-your-seat round of unconfirmed reports! Some of you may have heard last week that IBM is gearing up to build a couple of massive new supercomputers for the Department of Energy, as reported by The Mercury News, and perhaps you wondered just where the heck Apple is during this whole spiel. Well, if any of you are starting to waver in your conviction that Apple is absolute leader of technological innovation bar none, prepare yourselves for a big, fat dose of reassurance.

Big Blue is indeed poised to build the "world's first 197 ton computer," and we hear that Apple isn't planning on sitting still while IBM basks in all the glory. The article indicates that IBM's 197-ton behemoth will house a jaw-dropping 130,000 processors and will consume as much power as four thousand homes. According to unnamed sources close to the company, Apple, realizing that the Department of Energy probably isn't thrilled with bankrolling a project that's so hideously wasteful from a power perspective, is already in talks with the DoE to swipe the account from IBM on the grounds that our heroes in Cupertino can build an equivalent supercomputer that's far more energy-efficient.

Indeed, Apple has told the DoE that if it's a 197-ton computer it wants, then Apple can build one-- and using just one processor as opposed to IBM's ridiculously inefficient 130,000. Whereas IBM's design achieves the target weight of 197 tons by adding more and more processors (and therefore a higher and higher energy consumption), Apple's designers are proposing that a single PowerBook G4 be grafted to about 130 junked cars, thus forming a 197-ton computer system that still complies to Energy Star guidelines.

Apple's design also has the added benefits of requiring no more than a single AC electrical outlet for power, taking up significantly less space (while reclaiming used landfill), and coming in a few hundred million dollars under budget. The only drawback is that Apple's solution runs at up to 7.5 gigaflops, while IBM's proposed Blue Gene/L will reportedly pack 48,000 times more computational oomph; however, this isn't seen as a deal-breaker.

"We want a 197-ton computer," says an unnamed DoE source, "and we don't much care how fast it runs. IBM's was going to be so fast we figured we'd let it chew on stuff like weather prediction and DNA research algorithms. But Apple's implementation, while less computationally capable, would save us a ton of money on our electric bill, so we're definitely leaning towards going with that. We'll probably use it for Quicken, maybe a little Jedi Knight 2 now that that's out. Whatever.

"Just as long as the computer is 197 tons. That's key."

Once the company wins the DoE contract away from IBM, unnamed sources report that Apple's next project will be to outdo Bill Gates's eight-foot condom.

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The above scene was taken from the 11/27/02 episode:

November 27, 2002: Apple releases a firmware update to make "Wind-tunnel" Power Macs slightly less deafening. Meanwhile, the company's employees face layoffs and salary freezes, even as Apple tries to steal a Department of Energy contract to build a 197-ton supercomputer away from IBM...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3865: Keeping Tinnitus At Bay (11/27/02)   As Thanksgiving comes hurtling at our heads like a twenty-pound Butterball shot out of a cannon, Apple is just in time to give those of you lucky enough to own its most recent Power Macs still more reasons for which to be grateful...

  • 3866: The Slow Economy Blues (11/27/02)   It looks like Apple's latest Switch ads may in fact be accurate representations of a certain mythical chimney-crawling gift-giver, at least mood-wise: Santa seems to be a little on the surly side this year. That's what we gather from a report at Mac OS Rumors which states that Apple employees who were hoping for a year-end raise this holiday season are instead once again getting lumps of coal in their stockings...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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