Computing Facilities for AI: A Survey of Present and Near-Future Options
At the recent AAAI conference at Stanford, it became apparent that many new AI research centers are being established around the country in industrial and governmental settings and in universities that have not paid much attention to AI in the past. At the same time, many of the established AI centers are in the process of converting from older facilities, primarily based on Decsystem-10 and Decsystem-20 machines, to a variety of newer options. At present, unfortunately, there is no simple answer to the question of what machines, operating systems, and languages a new or upgrading AI facility should use, and this situation has led to a great deal of confusion and anxiety on the part of those researchers and administrators who are faced with making this choice. In this article I will survey the major alternatives available at present and those that are clearly visible on the horizon, and I will try to indicate the advantages and disadvantages of each for AI work. This is mostly information that we have gathered at CMU in the course of planning for our own future computing needs, but the opinions expressed are my own.
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