Some twenty years ago I set up a company to configure parallel computers for image processing applications. Unfortunately, demand wasn’t very high because of the poor price/performance ratio and the advent of RISC processors which surpassed it. I was therefore very excited when about a year ago Adapteva created a kickstarter project to offer affordable parallel computing to everyone. While I didn’t sign up for the kickstarter project I did order a parallella board through their shop. The board took quite sometime to arrive but is now running quite happily on my desk.
The Parallella Computer
The Parallella is a credit card sized computer that includes a dual-core ARM A9 CPU, a field programmable gate array (FPGA), and a 16 or 64-core Epiphany coprocessor. The Parallella is an extremely versatile platform that can be used as a standalone computer, an embedded device, or a component in a supercomputer architecture.
The Epiphany Coprocessor
The Epiphany multicore coprocessor is a scalable shared memory architecture, featuring up to 4,096 processors on a single chip connected through a high-bandwidth on-chip network. Each Epiphany processor core includes:
- a tiny high performance floating point RISC designed specifically for multicore processing;
- a high bandwidth local memory system;
- an extensive set of built in hardware features for multicore communication.
The Epiphany coprocessor is ANSI-C and OpenCL programmable and works in cooperation with standard microprocessors to provide an unprecedented level of real-time processing performance and power consumption. This makes the device ideal for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
The list of possible applications is quite large and included below. Consumer:
- Smart-phones and tablet app acceleration
- High end audio
- Computational photography
- Speech Recognition
- Face detection/recognition
- Super Computers
- Big Data Analytics
- Software Defined Networking
- Data-center Appliances
- High Frequency Trading
- Extremely Large Sensor Imaging
- Hyperspectral Imaging
- Communication Jamming
- Military Radios
- Communication test-bed
- Software defined radio
- Adaptive Pre-distortion
- Machine Vision
- Autonomous Robots/Navigation
- Automotive Safety
- High Speed Data Acquisition/Generation
- Security Cameras
- Video Transcoding