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So is it a Cabinet or a Refrigerator?

March 02, 2011

 BLOG-IBM-JEOPARDY.jpgHere’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! Jeff Cihocki, eContent Specialist 

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