So is it a Cabinet or a Refrigerator?
March 02, 2011
Here’s a clue: On February 14, 2011, this supercomputer, developed by IBM,
appeared on the popular game show, Jeopardy, to compete against human
contestants in a battle of wits and wisdom?
The answer (in true Jeopardy fashion): What (or
perhaps Who) is Watson?
Well, apart from trying to decide if Watson is a thing, a person, or some
strange combination of both, there’s no denying that the supercomputer with
life-like thinking processes and an incredibly sharp understanding of the
English language is definitely making waves in the tech industry and beyond.
So much so in fact that the very vocabulary of IT infrastructure is being
brought into the mix! In news articles, video recaps and blog
posts all across the web, the media, developers and engineers tasked with
introducing Watson to the world have continually referred to the cabinets used
to store Watson’s CPUs and servers as simply being “large refrigerators.”
While it’s not the world’s most sophisticated definition, it does bring to
light an interesting thought – as technology continues to reach a wider audience
(GPS, smartphones & touchscreen tablets just to name a few), the ways in
which we describe and understand these complex systems are constantly being
redefined for mass consumption.
On a literal level, the idea of IT
cabinets as large refrigerators makes complete sense. Just as dairy products
need refrigeration to remain fresh, so too does expensive IT equipment need good thermal cooling to operate
properly. When viewed hand-in-hand, this definition of a supercomputer’s
infrastructure isn’t naïve – it’s elementary my dear Watson!