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Section 2

Processors for array data

Two array processors are discussed in this section. Conceptually, they are an outgrowth of both the parallel, distributed computer [Holland, 1959], and the matrix-interpreter-based programs for general-purpose computers. NOVA is a very low cost special processor. ILLIAC IV is a very general array processor. Another approach, the ILLIAC III [McCormick, 1963] stores information on photographic media, so that optical processing (inherently parallel) can be used.


NOVA is a proposed, non-general-purpose machine based on the belief that efficient, special-function processors can be built to solve particular problems.

It is reasonable to assume that there are problems for which NOVA, with its cyclic memory, would perform no worse than a processor with a random-access memory. Unless the operations performed on the arrays were extremely simple or restricted, a single system might not always work very efficiently. By using a variable-speed cyclic memory to match the operation time in the form of an address transformation or renaming mechanism, the access problems might be avoided.

NOVA represents a particular idea for effective utilization of hardware and is presented to remind us that a memory now considered obsolete may perform nicely for a restricted application.

The ILLIAC IV computer

D. L. Slotnick is responsible for the ILLIAC IV computer. The idea for a computer with a number of parallel data operators or processing elements appeared some time ago in the SOLOMON computer [Gregory and McReynolds, 1963]. The technology of the first and second generation made SOLOMON impractical to build. ILLIAC IV was designed at the University of Illinois under a contract to the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency.1 The processing elements are constructed from third-generation technology although some medium- and large-scale integrated circuits are used in the design.

The design is about the most ambitious ever undertaken. The direct and indirect effects should be numerous.

1The university of Illinois monitored the contract to the Burroughs corporation, Paoli, Pa.


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