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The Anton computers are purpose-built by DE Shaw research for molecular dynamics simulations. They achieve performance up to an order of magnitude faster than can be achieved with commodity hardware, but don't seem to be used all that much by the wider computational chemistry community. This is despite the fact that limitations on simulation timescales is a major impediment to using simulations to guide experiments, leading to all kinds of intricate theoretical methods to deduce longer-timescale properties from relatively short simulation trajectories.

Having read a bit about the Anton machines, which have been around for over a decade now, I'm perplexed as to why they haven't been more widely used. Is it because they are too inflexible, not available to enough researchers, not helpful in solving scientific problems, or is there some other reason I'm missing?

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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps 10 times as much commodity hardware is cheaper? $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Dec 9 '19 at 0:07
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    $\begingroup$ And does DE Shaw even make the purpose-built chips available for purchase? $\endgroup$ – theorist Dec 9 '19 at 4:02
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    $\begingroup$ @theorist No, not as far as I'm aware, but there is at least one machine available for researchers to request time on: psc.edu/anton-rfp $\endgroup$ – mszep Dec 9 '19 at 7:35
  • $\begingroup$ Do you have evidence that the computers are not widely used? Can you quote some numbers? $\endgroup$ – Buck Thorn Dec 9 '19 at 12:07
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    $\begingroup$ According to this 2016 article, "As far as anyone is aware, there is only one Anton machine outside of the company’s New York-based research lab—at the Pittsburgh Supercomputer Center (PSC)" (nextplatform.com/2016/02/04/…). I also gather from the article that DESRES has kept the technology needed to make it close to the vest, so that's one key barrier. A second possible barrier is cost, and we can't assess cost if DESRES has never sold the tech to anyone else (it was donated to PSC). $\endgroup$ – theorist Dec 9 '19 at 22:16

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