IndraNet Signs with U.S. Supercomputer Developer

AUCKLAND (01/28/2000) - New Zealand start-up company IndraNet has signed a partnership deal with a U.S.-based company that claims to have developed a $US1,000 supercomputer.

"IndraNet and Star Bridge Systems (Inc.) will jointly develop a system, including hardware and software products, for wireless, broadband, mesh-network telecommunications," according to a press release from Star Bridge.

Star Bridge claims to have produced a chipset that can be run in a desktop computer at speeds in excess of 60,000 times faster than a 350MHz Pentium processor.

By using what it calls a "massively parallel, ultra-tightly coupled, asymmetrical multiprocessor" Star Bridge's new processor can, in effect, be programmed on the fly. Current processors have a fixed instruction set burnt onto the silicon. The processor can only work within that instruction set, albeit very quickly.

By developing a processor based on a field programmable gate array (FPGA), Star Bridge hopes to increase the programming power of the processor by a significant margin. FPGAs can be changed thousands of times each second, meaning the user would have the optimum chip configuration on tap.

Although the company claims to have already developed the hardware necessary for a PC, priced at $1,000, it is instead focussing initially on its high-end "hypercomputer" line, HAL. The HAL 300GrW1 costs around $26 million.

IndraNet has been quiet since its share float in June 1999. The Christchurch-based company raised NZ$2.6 million (US$1.32 million) from more than 1360 investors.

The company's proposed network will outwardly resemble the Internet, with each user site having a computer-controlled receiver, known as a minder, exchanging data at ultra-high frequencies. IndraNet claims the minders are self-managing and self-evolving, based on a new approach to distributed artificial intelligence.

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