Wednesday, April 4, 2012

ULT Processor Upgrades

Bringing More Processors Online
with Over 800 Propeller RISC Processors

That's correct - you heard it here, spelling it out - the ULT is Parallax Propeller Chip controlled via the Propeller Powered Big Brain - and Processors are a big thing when it comes to the Brain and its many peripherals. Lately, these peripherals have enormously grown in size and project magnitude, requiring increasing processing power by several magnitudes. Early on, the Big Brain required a massive amount of processors to harbor its Machine Simplex Neuron Array. Following were experiments that paced the machine and exercised massively parallel array projects. Projects were growing in increasing size leading up to the recent ULT Project. The ULT is the largest project ever achieved by the Big Brain. Let's take a look at the current breakdown and distribution of processors (which may change tomorrow).

We put out a request for ideas to upgrade the Big Brain from TFLOPS to the next level of Petaflops and the best idea seemed to incorporate multiple boards of GPU Streaming processors, though we never found boards that were fast enough that didn't require several hundred to get up to speed and over a hundred thousand dollars, certainly out of our price range. We'll take a look at this in the future. Being at the computer capitol of the world has advantages and mfg companies are willing to cut a deal for high volume purchases, and, these cards are dropping in price rapidly. One can get a hold of an older model for a song and a dance. This site describes Asci Red, originally a 1.6 Teraflops supercomputer, even though it was upgraded to 3.1 Tf, remained in the top 500 supercomputers when decommissioned. The speed of the Big Brain fits the Top 500 and has reached super computing status - definitely it's a "baby super computer" if not a wannabe in the making..

The changes made to the ULT system are now weekly or daily, and it's not possible or practical to blog every little detail of change. However, one larger change made is the additional number of processors brought online to the system. The Propeller Powered Big Brain was initially using a proportion of its processors, primarily the bank of 720 streaming GPUs. However, that was the introductory system which was quickly upgraded some time ago to include use of the full number of Propeller Big Brain processors and their counterparts. That's because initially the Big Brain was in distribution, across several countries. Now the Brain is fully consolidated through a major and costly international effort. Its config includes the full gamut of processor variety and the full number of (minimal) 100,500* is now online and available for computing and controlling power. The number of processors appears sufficient for running the current applications however this is in flux and evolving. The number of processors coming online is subject to change without notice.

* Greater than 100 Propeller chips
* Over 800 Propeller Cog RISC Processors
* 720 or more GPUs
* Greater than 100,000 EV Processors
* Several INTEL Duo & Quad Core Processors
* Atom Processor
* Add On Processor Cache up to 10,000 V Processors
* Graphics Accelerator Core

New processor totals exceed 111,530* various type processors. For more specifications regarding the streaming processors, consult the Specs page.

Additionally added Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator 950 Graphics Core chip set with the following specs:

256-bit graphics core running at 400MHz
Up to 10.6 GB/sec memory bandwidth with DDR2 667 system memory
1.6 GPixels/sec and 1.6 GTexels/sec fill rate
Up to 224 MB maximum video memory
2048x1536 at 75 Hz maximum resolution
Dynamic Display Modes for flat-panel, wide-screen and Digital TV
Operating systems supported: Microsoft Windows* XP, Windows* XP 64bit, Media Center Edition 2004/2005, Windows 2000; Linux-compatible (Xfree86 source available)
Up to 4 pixels per clock rendering
Microsoft* DirectX* 9 Hardware Acceleration Features:
Pixel Shader 2.0
Volumetric Textures
Shadow Maps
Slope Scale Depth Bias
Two-Sided Stencil
Microsoft* DirectX* 9 Vertex Shader 3.0 and Transform and Lighting supported in software through highly optimized Processor Specific Geometry Pipeline (PSGP)
Texture Decompression for DirectX* and OpenGL*
OpenGL* 1.4 support plus ARB_vertex_buffer and EXT_shadow_funcs extensions and TexEnv shader caching
Up to 2048x1536 resolution for both analog and digital displays
Consumer Electronic display (Digital TV) support
Display hot plug support to automatically detect new display connection while system is operating (CRT and DVI)
Two Serial Digital Video Out (SDVO) ports for flat-panel monitors and/or TV-out support via Advanced Digital Display 2 (ADD2) cards or Media Expansion Cards
Intel Media Expansion Cards available providing TV-out and PVR capability
Multiple display types (LVDS, DVI-I, DVI-D, HDTV, TV-out, CRT)
Dual screen support through ADD2 digital video devices
HDTV 480i/p, 576i/p, 720i/p and 1080i/p display resolution support
Interlaced Display output support
16x9 and 16x10 Aspect Ratio for widescreen displays
2x2 Panel Scaler
High Definition Hardware Motion Compensation to support high definition hi-bitrate MPEG2 media playback
Up and Down Scaling of Video Content
High Definition Content Decode - up to two stream support
5x3 Overlay Filtering