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ASK THE EXPERTS

Are you ready for your Yottaflop?

POSTED: May 2, 2012 4:00 a.m.

It has been a few years since Vice President Joe Biden visited Dawson County to announce the grant award for the North Georgia Network, or NGN.

Since that time, construction of the all fiber optic network has almost been completed. The dream has become a reality.

NGN is the result of a community of people seeing this network as a problem solver and a way to move this region forward in the coming decades.

NGN is a village solution that attempts to keep us connected in an ever expanding world now deeply interwoven through digital technology and the Web.

As with the electrification of rural America, the paving of the interstate highway system and the expansion of the Web; there have been the naysayers.

All major advancements have had to hurdle skeptics and political maneuvering.

In some cases, the value of these projects only became evident decades later.

NGN and the rural broadband initiatives will take some years, but like those other quantum leap efforts they will prove their worth.

For me, NGN is just a tool. The question has never been how it will work? The question is how much can we do with it?

To answer that, you need to look at where mankind, the U.S. and Georgia, in addition to Dawson County, are going.

The NGN connection to the rest of the world when fully built out will be 160 strands transmitting at 100 gigabits per second, or gbps.

A gigabit is 1 million bits of information.

That may not mean much to you, but when a doctor in Atlanta is trying to review your grandson's MRI taken here in Dawson County, you start needing gbps of capacity.

When you start trying to download a 3D movie real time to your flat screen TV you need Gbps. The more flat screens and the more MRIs, the more we all move at gbps.

In north Georgia, we are already moving into NGN capacity levels and terabyte and even petabyte consumption is just over the horizon.

The demand for bandwidth - the ability to move all those MRIs, movies, Google searches, YouTube videos, pictures of the grandkids, manufacturing data, financial information and e-mails is climbing at an incredible pace.

All of us demand more and consume more of it each year.

Discussions around Atlanta are for capacities in the yottabyte range within just a few decades. A yottabyte currently covers about the content of the entire Internet.

If you think there is a ton of stuff on the Web now, wait 20 years when it fills up more than two yottabytes.

Think for a moment about the current computing capacity.

Your smartphone has far more computing power than man took to the moon.

The U.S. is engaged right now in developing the fastest computers on the planet.

It is a race we are losing.

The goal is to reach a computing speed of an exaflop (1 quintillion operations per second). An exaflop is still two orders below a yottaflop. So we are heading toward yottabytes of data crunched at the speed of a yottaflop.

The Japanese currently have the fastest computer.

Their "K" operates at 10.51 petaflops.

The Chinese have their Tianhe-1A working at a modest 2.57 petaflops and our best thus far (secret military experimental machines aside) is the Jaguar, which runs at 2.33 petaflops.

To understand the pace of these developments, in 2009 our Jaguar was the fastest computer in the world.

What all of this giga, tera, peta, exa and yotta stuff really means is that your future smartphones, iPads, laptops and huge corporate cloud systems will run substantially larger amounts of data at much faster speeds.

We will do more things than you can imagine.

Even NGN will have to expand to keep up with the day you bring home your first yottaflop laptop.

That day may be sooner than you think.

Charlie Auvermann is a longtime Dawson County resident and former editor of the Dawson Community News. He is also the executive director of the local development authority.

 

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