The key weakness of the powerful FX/8 parallel processors built by Alliant Computer Systems Corp, Acton, Massachusetts has been that much of its power lies idle in applications that are not amenable to parallel execution. The company’s key software product is a Fortran compiler that automatically organises a program for parallel processing, but confines the machine to a single application. The company has now addressed the problem by introducing a job scheduler for the machine that enables applications to be directed to individual processors, so that a large parallel application can run on a group of processors, while the other processors are each handling their own smaller application or task. The downside, according to Computer Systems News, is that the cache is organised so that every time a task is assigned to an individual processor, cache capacity for parallel processing is reduced. Moreover only one parallel task runs on the FX/8 at any one time.
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