Alliant Computer Systems Corp, Littleton, Massachusetts has enhanced its FX/Series of minisupercomputers with a new version of the FX/Fortran compiler, disk striping, and larger, more advanced cache memory system. Version 3.0 of the FX/Fortran compiler includes new features to optimise a broader range of source code constructs and algorithms to enable more of an application to execute in parallel. Disk striping is a new operating system feature that extends Alliant’s parallel architecture to the file system. It distributes individual files transparently across multiple disks and allows access to all disks in parallel, and currently supports four-way striping to provide a 400% improvement in disk input-output throughput. A new interactive processor delivers twice the computational performance of the older one at the same price (presumably replacing the original 68010s with 32-bit 68020s). These offload the proprietary 64-bit computational processors, handling interactive jobs such as editors and other Unix utilities, operating system tasks and input-output, including disk striping. Up to 12 – and up to eight computational processors – can be configured in an FX/8 at a time. The new cache, at 512Kb, is four times the size of the old one, with new prefetching logic and a more efficient multiprocessor memory access algorithm. The Abaqus finite element analysis program and the Astronomical Image Processing System program show are 29% and 53% faster respectively, and the Linpack benchmark runs 56% better at 25 MFlops. The new hardware is standard on all new systems; the software follows shortly.
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