Navajos in the American Southwest, many of whom have never had access to a personal telephone, will soon make a significant leap into the Internet Age, thanks in part to resources and expertise provided by the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego, according to a statement from the University.
The Little Fe mini-supercomputer (in contrast to “big iron,” slang for supercomputers) is a small cluster of parallel processors that work together as a single small supercomputer. Developed by a team of computer scientists and professors for their students, it provides both a research-level parallel cluster and an opportunity for students to learn parallel processing, said UCSD.
According to Tom Davis, dean of instruction at the Navajo college, the project is “designed to end the digital divide in the eastern agency of the Navajo Nation”—a vast, stark, high-desert landscape poorly served by commercial utility companies, where traveling 10 miles to make a phone call is not uncommon.
Staff at SDSC, among them Jim Hale and Diane Baxter, are working on interrelated projects with Navajo Technical College (NTC). The first phase will involve building a major wireless “pipe” using the Lambda Rail and Internet 2 from Albuquerque to the college, in northwest New Mexico.
Through an extended mesh of wireless broadband towers that will be built by students, faculty and community members, NTC will offer broadband connectivity to 31 community centers, and later to schools, clinics, hospitals, police departments, fire houses and homes, according to the announcement.
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