G4 - Were they actually considered a "Supercomputer" at launch?

urbanracer34

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Original poster
Jun 1, 2010
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My Dad once told me that the G4 was, at one time, considered a supercomputer capable of "launching Nuclear ICBMs" and that to get one in Canada when they first came out, you had give your SIN (US equivalent of SSN) among other things to get one.

I asked my Dad how he knew this, and he said some of his buddies had to go through this process at launch.

Is this true? Did you have to go through hoops to get one at launch?
 

urbanracer34

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 1, 2010
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This article may be useful to you...

That was interesting! Thanks for the link. Guess there was at least a bit of truth to it.
 

jerwin

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Jun 13, 2015
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My Dad once told me that the G4 was, at one time, considered a supercomputer capable of "launching Nuclear ICBMs" and that to get one in Canada when they first came out, you had give your SIN (US equivalent of SSN) among other things to get one.

I asked my Dad how he knew this, and he said some of his buddies had to go through this process at launch.

Is this true? Did you have to go through hoops to get one at launch?
missile launch computers are simple affairs.


https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2019/10/air-force-finally-retires-8-inch-floppies-from-missile-launch-control-system/

However, to design a nuclear warhead, supercomputers are helpful. To test a nuclear warhead design without violating the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty, a supercomputer is essential.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Simulation_and_Computing_Program

The ASC computers were in the 1-100 teraflops range-- so thousands of times more powerful than a G4.
 

timidpimpin

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Nov 10, 2018
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Modern electronic warfare is more about signal jamming and spying.

Here is a good modern example. This is NATO and NORAD's eyes and ears at the top of the earth. The base is built on the most northern point of land in North America. There are massive antenna grids that they don't allow photos of.

 
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eyoungren

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Modern electronic warfare is more about signal jamming and spying.

Here is a good modern example. This is NATO and NORAD's eyes and ears at the top of the earth. The base is built on the most northern point of land in North America. There are massive antenna grids that they don't allow photos of.

This may interest you…https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/canadian-fighter-jets-temporarily-fill-in-for-u-s-air-defences-1.635315

For a couple of weeks in 2007 while USAF F-15s were grounded in Alaska, the Canadian Air Force provided air intercept and defense.
 

timidpimpin

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NORAD is truly an operation by both nations. The 2nd in command at NORAD headquarters in Colorado has always been a Canadian. Most of the time they each defend their own airspace, but in an emergency situation they always go with who's closest.

I'm actually a dual US/Canada citizen, and served in both armies.
 
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iluvmacs99

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Apr 9, 2019
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My Dad once told me that the G4 was, at one time, considered a supercomputer capable of "launching Nuclear ICBMs" and that to get one in Canada when they first came out, you had give your SIN (US equivalent of SSN) among other things to get one.

I asked my Dad how he knew this, and he said some of his buddies had to go through this process at launch.

Is this true? Did you have to go through hoops to get one at launch?
It's a promotional gag concocted to promote G4 tower sales. That is because in Canada, providing SIN to a private organization unless it is required by government such as employment and income tax purposes is NOT necessary. Certainly buying a G4 required a SIN if you are going to be buying it on credit and they need to check your credit score. But again, that's not necessary either.

You can opt out of this requirement when you cite your rights which I did. When I bought the G4, I bypassed this requirement and got my G4. Your dad's buddies, however, got duped into releasing their SIN. There are some dubious companies in Canada who are still asking for your SIN when you buy things. You DO NOT NEED to share your SIN when you buy anything. You do know that it is a BIG HASSLE to change SIN if it ever got stolen do you? Canadian SIN is used to apply for social welfare services and your CPP (Canadian Pension Plan). If your SIN is compromised, then you will be delayed in receiving those benefits.
 

urbanracer34

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 1, 2010
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It's a promotional gag concocted to promote G4 tower sales. That is because in Canada, providing SIN to a private organization unless it is required by government such as employment and income tax purposes is NOT necessary. Certainly buying a G4 required a SIN if you are going to be buying it on credit and they need to check your credit score. But again, that's not necessary either.

You can opt out of this requirement when you cite your rights which I did. When I bought the G4, I bypassed this requirement and got my G4. Your dad's buddies, however, got duped into releasing their SIN. There are some dubious companies in Canada who are still asking for your SIN when you buy things. You DO NOT NEED to share your SIN when you buy anything. You do know that it is a BIG HASSLE to change SIN if it ever got stolen do you? Canadian SIN is used to apply for social welfare services and your CPP (Canadian Pension Plan). If your SIN is compromised, then you will be delayed in receiving those benefits.
I was very young when I had heard about all this with the G4. I do know that you shouldn't give out your SIN unless absolutely required.
 

iluvmacs99

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Apr 9, 2019
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I was very young when I had heard about all this with the G4. I do know that you shouldn't give out your SIN unless absolutely required.
If my memory served me right, it wasn't for very long that Apple discontinued asking for it and just sold the G4 to whomever got the dough.
 

benjo765

macrumors member
Sep 17, 2008
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Los Angeles
My Dad once told me that the G4 was, at one time, considered a supercomputer capable of "launching Nuclear ICBMs" and that to get one in Canada when they first came out, you had give your SIN (US equivalent of SSN) among other things to get one.

I asked my Dad how he knew this, and he said some of his buddies had to go through this process at launch.

Is this true? Did you have to go through hoops to get one at launch?
Obviously moving goalposts. Kinda hard to believe though
 

bobesch

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Oct 21, 2015
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Quoting from the article:
"But the IBM Series/1 computers remain, in part because of their reliability and security. And it's not clear whether other upgrades to "modernize" the system have been completed. Air Force officials have acknowledged network upgrades that have enhanced the speed and capacity of SACCS' communications systems ... "
😄
 

Eriamjh1138@DAN

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Sep 16, 2007
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So that’s why I kept my wife’s first Sawtooth G4: To launch those nuclear Missles!

...and a 400Mh Upgraded to 1.2Ghz is actually still usable.

Well, not really. I use it to rip DVDs When I run across them.
 

Anonymous Freak

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Dec 12, 2002
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I sincerely doubt the "giving your SIN" is true. Especially since it was a US law that "classified it as a weapon" (technically, it was classified as "munitions", not "a weapon", which is a different classification,) not a Canadian law.

Yes, it is true that at the moment the G4 was released, it had enough computing power (thanks to the VMX "AltiVec" vector processing extensions) to qualify it as a "supercomputer" according to a law that had been last updated in the 1980s. That law was quickly changed (the Pentium III released at near the same time also qualified thanks to its similar "SSE" vector processing extensions.)
 
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timidpimpin

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The main threat it had was raw calculation abilities that much of the world didn't have access to. These also came out when cluster supercomputers really started to take off. Many North American and European scientific research organizations and universities used G4 clusters for huge calculations.

Bottom line... if the enemy can calculate faster than you, then they can out-plan you.

There was concern from the US government, but it certainly wasn't as serious as Apple made it seem.

 
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bobesch

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The main threat it had was raw calculation abilities that much of the world didn't have access to. These also came out when cluster supercomputers really started to take off. Many North American and European scientific research organizations and universities used G4 clusters for huge calculations.

Bottom line... if the enemy can calculate faster than you, then they can out-plan you.

There was concern from the US government, but it certainly wasn't as serious as Apple made it seem.

I wonder, if YouTube or browser performance on that cluster is anyhow better than on that single G4 MDD ...
 

timidpimpin

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I wonder, if YouTube or browser performance on that cluster is anyhow better than on that single G4 MDD ...
Clusters require specialized code to distribute the computation to other machines on a cluster. And that software is pretty much all geared to calculations. If running a browser or any other type of normal software it would only be computed on the terminal system, not the nodes.

Even the OS isn't cluster code supported. Only the calculation software.
 

AshleyPomeroy

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Dec 27, 2018
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Off the top of my head the main issue was encryption, or technically decryption - the NSA was keen that non-governmental entities should not have access to strong encryption, or to a means of cracking strong decryption.

An individual G4 wasn't much of a threat but a room full of them, as above, would have been much more effective. There were probably cheaper options than using a load of G4s, though.