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2005-12-30Visualize Context (requires Java Plug-in)
CREATED BY chris • LAST EDITED BY chris 5547 days AGO
[create Vivian Sewelson], [create Sidd Puri], [create Jose Oglesby], David Tarditi: Accelerator: simplified programming of graphics processing units for general-purpose uses via data-parallelism

"Accelerator is a system that simplifies the programming of [create GPU]s for general-purpose uses. Programmers are provided with a new type of array, a data-parallel array. Data-parallel arrays differ from conventional arrays in two ways. First, the only operations available on them are aggregate operations over entire input arrays. The operations are a subset of those found in languages like APL. They include element-wise arithmetic and comparison operators, reductions to compute min, max, product, and sum, and transformations on entire arrays."

Discussion on LTU.Guy Steele: "Computers linked together in networks are now the norm, not the exception. Computers with multiple processors are becoming more and more common. We need programming languages that support the use of multiple threads of control. [...] In such a context, the organizing principles of structured programming may not always be appropriate. I'm not talking about avoiding goto. [...] I'm talking about sequencing, if-then-else, and loops."

"What might a language look like in which parallelism is the default? How about data-parallel languages, in which you operate, at least conceptually, on all the elements of an array at the same time? These go back to APL in the 1960s [...]. What if do loops and for loops* were normally parallel, and you had to use a special declaration or keyword to indicate sequential execution? That might change your mindset a little bit."

* A.k.a., in certain circles, stinking loops.Hannibal on Ars Technica: "If IBM changed CELL's SPE hardware from SIMD floating-point to scalar integer, they'd have something that looks a whole lot like—and possibly even performs like—Sun's UltraSPARC T1. The consumer demand for Cell-like levels of DSP prowess is limited to gaming right now*, and probably will be for a few more years. But the demand for [UltraSPARC T1]-levels of performance per watt is there yesterday in the datacenter."

cell-induced daydreaming (to once again proudly recycle earl's words): fun.

* Where there are cycles, demand will be.


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