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Computer Hardware History buffs! I need your help!

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May 20, 2004 1:51:24 AM

My teacher challenged me to find a "true parallel system that is NOT pseudoparallel as well."
I believe this means a multiprocessor system that uses spooling instead of timesharing to run processes.
This means multi-threaded, strictly single process, right? edit: Or maybe strictly 1 process per processor. Just so there isn't any pseudoparallelism going on.

Are there, or were there ever, any computers that fit this description?
Do super computers, such as The Earth Simulator, work this way?

Thanks for any information you can provide.

<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by cheung5345 on 05/19/04 10:23 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
May 20, 2004 11:43:31 AM

Do you mean Hyper-Threading? Your post is a bit confusing.
May 20, 2004 2:17:15 PM

Humm.... Folder@Home and SETI@Home can be called trully "parallel" each CPU crunch data individually and they return results to a "master cluster"... But your post, is not very clear.

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May 20, 2004 2:31:20 PM

No, I don't mean Hyperthreading.
The average PC today is single processor, pseudoparallel (switches back and forth through processes rapidly to simulate programs running in parallel).

I am looking for a multiprocessor, non-pseudoparallel, if one ever existed.

Folding/SETI @home is not quite what I'm looking for. I am looking for an actual machine.
May 20, 2004 2:49:18 PM

So any dual or more CPU PC is doing some parallel work. For example if you run a "single-threaded" application on a dual system, the OS assign the process to 1 CPU. The second processor will continue to do anything else. This is parallel processing. It's true that when you get more than 2 process running (which in today's PC is all the time) there will always be switching between process, but an application that is single-threaded can't be "shared" between 2 CPUs. It's why I think any DUAL or more CPU PC are doing "true" AND "pseudo" parallelism.

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May 20, 2004 3:57:26 PM

Try the Motorola 6800 Micro processor. It was used in Tandy Colour Computer's. I still have a functional CoCo3.

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May 20, 2004 4:05:08 PM

There are tons of examples of these sort of computers.

They have been around since, at least, the 1970's.

If you are "TRULY" seeking a situation where the processor ONLY performs a single thread, you likely will not find it. EVERY implementation I have seen requires the processor to perform additional tasks. (At least implementations where the system is TRULY a general purpose computing device. Communications to other processes, synchronization of datasets, results, etc.....)

Generally systems are, what you are terming, pseudo-parallel because it extends what most designers are used to. Initially processors were VERY expensive, VERY complicated for the day. It made sense to utilize a processor in as many tasks as possible, so time from the processor was allocated to a process/thread through a timeslice situation. (Definately a whole bunh of nuances as to what a "timeslice" is going to be.)

Now, as what was complicated is quickly becoming run of the mill, more and more systems are created from multiple processors each doing less, but doing it simultaneously.

This REALLY hurt Cray as while they built some of the FASTEST processors availabe they were really late in getting onto the multi-processor systems. (No, I am not talking about 4 or 16 processors or even 64, but rather higher numbers.)

Likely the FIRST company that did a really good job at getting multi-processors to do tasks well was Thinking Machines Inc when they made the Connection Machine.

Likely you, and many others on this board, have seen one of their systems. (Or at least a system that looks nearly, if not, excactly like one of theirs.) Wargames. The computer system that was shown as the one controlling the missiles is, is looks very much like, a Connection Machine.

This was a MASSIVELY parallel system that could have up to 16,384 processors. The LED's show communications accross the processors.

Steve Ciarcia from Circuit Cellar had a project some time ago that used multiple 8051 microcontrollers on a communications bus to solve mathmatical problems.

The Earth simulator is another example.

ALL of the Neural Net systems are essentially "parallel". (Actually in this case, they mostly do single tasks.) These are VERY simple processing elements that have the ability to run in parallel.

I think SETI@Home is another good example. (As previously mentioned.)

Look that the IBM the Blue Gene/L system. The one being built for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will contain 131,072 processors. (400 person staff, 1/2 a tennis court, 6+ megawatts of power, etc.... Truly amazing specs overall.)

Even in PC's there are various processes that are now handled by separate processors. The "KEYBOARD" is the oldest example as a separate procesor existed to perform ALL of the key scanning and debounce functions. Some diskcontrollers are separate processors, sound chips, video controllers. While these are NOT general purpose processors that can have their mission altered much, at least in the configuration being used, they are separate processors that perform tasks in parallel to the main processor.

Lastly, isn't this cheating?

You can easily look up more information on anything that I've written on the Internet.

The ones I picked are may favorite one, a hobby example, and a truly amazing current peice of work. (The Connection Machine, Circuit Cellar, and Blue Gene/L, respectively.)
May 20, 2004 6:07:59 PM

can it be a single component? maybe it can be the proccessor on a (hardware) modem or a good soundcard?

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May 20, 2004 8:37:02 PM

I'd bet some money your teacher is thinking about the <A HREF="http://www.classiccmp.org/transputer/" target="_new"> transputer </A>

If I'm right, send me a cookie :) 

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May 21, 2004 5:10:14 AM

I'd bet some money your teacher is thinking about the transputer

If I'm right, send me a cookie :) 
---------------------------------------------------------

"Each transputer has a highly efficient built-in run-time scheduler for processes running in parallel on the same transputer and supports channel communication through single words in memory. Processes waiting for input or output, or waiting on a timer, consume no CPU resources, and process context switching time can be as little as one microsecond." - from your link

I don't know if this fits. :(  It refers to a "scheduler for processes running in parallel on the same transputer" and "process context switching time can be as little as one microsecond." which sound like things pseudo-parellel processors needs. Can you tell me how a transputer actually brings processes into memory to be run?

This isn't for homework or anything. I just asked my teacher if true parallel necessarily means pseudo-parallel as well and he challenged me to find a multiprocessor system that uses spooling. He'll give me extra credit if I can find one. :p 
May 21, 2004 5:16:14 AM

Try the Motorola 6800 Micro processor. It was used in Tandy Colour Computer's. I still have a functional CoCo3.
------------------------------------------------------------
Hey, I googled for the 6800 Micro processor... edited out.

Is this multiprocessor? It sounds like a single processor to me.

edit2: another word that might help is a "batch system."
did a multiprocessor spooling batch system ever exist?<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by cheung5345 on 05/21/04 01:38 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
May 21, 2004 7:20:41 AM

I know precious little about how the transputer worked, but there is always google.. Have a look here:
<A HREF="http://www.embedded.com.au/reference/transputers.html" target="_new">http://www.embedded.com.au/reference/transputers.html&l...;/A>

Also, I'm unsure what you mean by "spooling" in this context.

I just referenced the transputer as it is considered to be (one of) the first (if not only) truly parallel architectures.

= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my wife. =
May 21, 2004 12:57:46 PM

In later versions it also had 5 1/4 drives with controler and socketed game or data cartridges that plug into the right side of the keyboard.



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May 25, 2004 6:45:58 PM

Technically such an animal probably doesn't exist if for no other reason than because of software. Software could be used to perform pseudo-parallelism in any hardware.

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June 29, 2009 7:45:55 PM

Try looking at the DEC System 10 stuff, particularly the 1066 block diagram. the memory was multiported and multiple cpus could be hooked up. Although I have heard it said it wasn't true SMP because cpu zero was still the scheduler.
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June 29, 2009 10:03:03 PM

Thread parallelism (in theory) existed in the 1950s and was put in practice in the early 1960s.

Thread parallelism has historically been referred to as SMT for symmetric multi threading

And the term you are looking for is "load balancing" across cores (or CPUs) - not "pseudo parallel".

That's all I'm giving you :) 

June 29, 2009 10:39:02 PM

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