The Stollmann Data Flow Machine
Most of the data flow architectures proposed in the last years aim at number crunching, which naturally seems to imply fine grain paralellism. Just so fine grain seems to lead naturally to (expensive) special hardware. Our aim is to adapt the data flow concept to commercial applications as for example from the database field. These applications more naturally lead to symbolic crunching and coarse respectively variable grain. For this reason and w.r.t. market acceptance we built a machine using off-the-shelf hardware and lifted up the data flow mechanism from hardware to software level. To avoid the classical bottleneck of “firing” we introduced parallel firing.
The dataflow mechanism is implemented on a shared memory architecture. The chosen hardware configuration is based on four processor boards — each equipped with a microprocessor and 4 MByte dual ported RAM — connected to a VMEbus. The host processor runs the UNIX V.3 operating system whereas the other three nodes run SRTX, a realtime operating system kernel. A first prototype will run in October ’88.
Subjects of investigation on the prototype will be among others the correct choice of grain size, the appropriate ratio of firing control units and execution units and questions related to the topic of load balance.
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