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  1. Technology
August 9, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

Minisupercomputer manufacturers have been falling by the wayside in distressing numbers, but still they come, and there are plenty more fledglings out there still hoping to make the big time. The latest to show its hand a couple of months ago was New Bedford, Massachusetts start-up International Parallel Machines Inc (CI No 934), which demonstrated its new IP-1 computer in Boston, claimimg that the thing provides support for up to 33 RISC processors for a maximum performance of 264 MIPS and 528 MFLOPS at a cost of under $1,500 per MFLOPS in raw performance and under $4,000 per MFLOPS on the 64-bit Linpack benchmark. The reason that the system is so cheap is that where competitors have been designing their own high-speed bipolar or CMOS chips, International is using only fast off-the-shelf parts. The machine uses the Am29332 micro-programmable microprocessors from Advanced Micro Devices for integer processing: the chips are the third generation successors to the world-beating Am2901 4-bit slices, and are effectively 32-bit slices, and since it is claimed to be a 64-bit processor, it presumably uses two of the chips per CPU. For floating point work, the machine uses the Weitek Corp 2264/2265 chip-set. The system runs a real-time implementation of Unix, developed in house. According to the company, the IP-1’s key feature is that any number of processors can access up to 32Mb of shared memory at the same time without arbitration. Additionally, each processor has its own 8Mb memory and local bus for handling memory and input-output. A global bus oversees communications between multiple processors, and both buses run at 80Mbytes-per second according to the company. Other features include Flash Data Transfer, an interconnection network that enables a processor to pass 1Mb of data to another processor in under one microsecond; and a database with 32-bit address range, which since the machine uses 64-bit words, can extend to 4G-words that’s 32Gb, and can be extended to 48-bit addressing. Over 200 vector, matrix, and parallel routines are included in the standard library for scientific and engineering applications. Prices range from $89,000 for a dual processor system, up to $860,000 for a fully configured 33 processor machine, and will be available four months after order. International Parallel was formed in 1980, but this is its first product to reach the market.

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