Symbiotics

Contents
1 » Naturally parallel computing4 » Processing efficiency
2 » Expandability5 » Energy efficiency
3 » Generality
Naturally parallel computing

Intesym uses the term Symbiotics to refer to its proprietary methods of parallel computation and its implementation of highly parallel microprocessors. A characteristic of a Symbiotic processor is that it has parallel execution as the very basis of its design. Typical benefits of this are:

  • New parallel processes can be created in single clock cycles.
  • Useful parallelism granularity can be as fine as to be measured in nanoseconds.
  • Concurrency levels can run into the hundreds of thousands.
  • Multiprocessing is a natural arrangement.
  • Eliminates the middleware, abstraction layers, scheduling, load-balancing, and other software inefficiencies associated with conventional parallel computing.
  • There is no concept of interrupts — I/O handling is concurrent with all other processes.
  • Real-time response to external I/O signals is a natural consequence.
  • Naturally energy efficient — electrical power consumption is a function of computational load.
Expandability

A further characteristic of a Symbiotic processor, which relates to its name, is that many of them can be connected and will automatically work together without software control or coordination. An upshot of this is that a system can be expanded in computational power simply by adding processors almost indefinitely.

Generality

Symbiotics places no specialisation on the function of the processors and can be used for completely general purpose architectures, e.g. Quickfire, to replace any conventional CPU. Of course, specialist arrangements are possible and easy to create, such as the Cortica Idemetric Processor. Thus Symbiotics is an ideal basis for any computational need, ranging from embedded microcontrollers through mobile and desktop units to mainframes and supercomputers, covering applications as diverse as communications, control systems, databases, artificial intelligence, simulations, and climate prediction, as well as everyday mundane tasks as web browsing and word processing.

In addition, the architectural generality is not merely limited to CPU functions, the techniques can also be applied to create advanced graphics processors (GPUs), audio processors, digital signal processors (DSP), and so on, with ease and simplicity.

Processing efficiency

The Symbiotic execution model is far superior to the conventional “von Neumann” models because it naturally follows ideal patterns regardless of loading, mixture of tasks, mixture of parallelism granularities, and even aspects such as bandwidths and latencies around the system. The programmer and compiler do not need worry about run-time conditions because the system inherently “relaxes” into the optimal execution pattern without guidance.

Conventional processors incorporate many ‘advanced’ features such as branch prediction, speculative execution, superscalarity, and out-of-order analysis, but these are difficult to design, expensive to implement, and complex to tune. Symbiotic processors do not need these because they offer intrinsically more efficient ways of achieving even higher levels of performance. The elimination of this hardware makes a Symbiotic system simpler in design, easier to use, cheaper to make, and allows resources to be applied to more important design aspects.

Energy efficiency

A Symbiotic processor consumes electrical power according to the computational needs. If there is no work to be done then it does not do anything (not even idling), and so it consumes virtually no power. This occurs as a consequence of the nature of Symbiotics and does not require any monitoring circuitry, clock variations, or voltage reductions, and thus does away with the complexities and inaccuracies of traditional power-saving schemes.

Technology in brief

A parallel computing architecture, scalable from embedded systems to supercomputers, efficiently handling fine-grain concurrency levels of hundreds of thousands.

Variants include 16- to 64-bit general purpose systems, transmuteable instructions, and arbitrary precision arithmetic.

Technology reports


Symbiotics homepage

A case for a new architecture

Architectures


Quickfire

Freeform

Polymer

Cortica

Related technology


Virtual Symbiotics

See also


Design services