The `Monsoon': Blowing Big Changes In Processing

There's a lot of excitement these days about parallel processing, which relies on not one but many computer processors working on a program simultaneously. But writing programs for such machines is terribly difficult, especially in accounting applications, say, where programs can't be easily divided into independent chunks.

A promising design called dataflow computing may solve the problem. It can automatically find opportunities for dividing programs into parallel pieces wherever they exist, according to researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Motorola Inc.'s Computer Group. They're working together on a general-purpose dataflow computer called Monsoon, which they program in a language called Id. Motorola has just delivered a Monsoon prototype, based on eight processing elements, to MIT. Around 1995, the partners figure, subsequent models may include 1,000 processors and execute 1 trillion instructions per second. The Pentagon is helping fund the $10 million project.

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