Troubled supercomputer manufacturer Cydrome Inc of Milpitas, California, still has faith in the distributed dataflow architecture of its Cydra 5 departmental systems, despite the recent withdrawal of the company’s marketing partner Prime Computer Inc last month (CI No 980) – and it needs all the support it can get after that devasting reverse. Some succour has come with the news that scientists at the US National Aeronautics & Space Administration’s jet propulsion laboratory in Pasadena, California have reduced time spent decoding data received from deep space probes to just 90 seconds where it previously took 24 hours. Seven months ago, NASA was using a VAX-11/750 for simulations, modelling deep-space systems and error-correcting codes, using data transmitted from probes now as far away as the planet Neptune. NASA scientist Dr Laif Swanson claims that the Lab’s new Cydrome Cydra 5 is up to 1,000 times faster when running the custom Viterbi decoding application. When a signal comes all the way from Neptune, there are numerous errors because the distance makes the signal weak and the noise in the receiver is large, she said. Although scientists at the propulsion lab have access to a Cray supercomputer through the University of California in San Diego, Dr Swanson said the Cydra 5 is just as fast as the Cray for this particular application.
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