Reprogrammable Coprocessors For Any Opteron Server
April 24, 2006 2:40 AM
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The DRC module plugs directly into a Socket 940 AMD Opteron motherboard
DRC has announced its newest FPGA that drops into AMD's Socket 940
The Register has a fairly
in depth look
at one start-up's attempt to capitalize on AMD's HyperTransport interface -- a reprogrammable coprocessor that can drop into any Socket 940 socket. The company, DRC, built its programmable coprocessor on Xilinx Virtex4 field programmable gate array integrated circuits.
For specialized industries, a dynamic coprocessor is exactly what the doctor ordered; low overhead for extremely specific tasks such as vector math or collision detection. Companies already pay thousands to millions of dollars to have such overly specific algorithms ported to custom FPGA processors, but the kicker for DRC is that the chip can be integrated into a multi-slot Opteron server running the correct software.
Each series of coprocessors
unveiled by the company
uses the standard HyperTransport (HT) interface to communicate with the main processor. The low end coprocessor, the DRC100-L60ES, uses a 200MHz by 8-bit HT link. DRC's two high end modules, the DRC100-L60 and the DRC110-L160 both use a 400MHz by 16-bit interface instead. DRC coprocessors range in size from 50,000 to 140,000 programmable gates and all three can utilize 6.4GBps between the Xilinx FPGA and the DDR400 memory bank.
Each DRC module starts at about $4,500. Competing proprietary systems from SGI and IBM easily cost four times that and generally require additional proprietary hardware and contracts to support.
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4/24/2006 10:35:56 AM
Now this is what a Physics coprocessor should be like instead of the 133 MB/sec PCI card people are hyping.
Direct HT path to the main CPU, direct access to the full bandwidth memory bus, etc. No wasted bandwidth, just set the data arrays up in memory with the CPU, and send instructions to the physics COP to plow through them.
But we would have to see dual socket motherboards that are worthy of a gaming machine. Most dual CPU boards suck compared to the highest end gaming boards like the A8N32-SLI for gaming performance.
4/24/2006 4:36:36 PM
Physics coprocessor SHOULD be on PCI EXPRESS. It doesn't particularly need hypertransport, but it should have full duplex without contention. PCI Express is fine I hope Asus and BFGTech they migrate their physics boards to it soon.
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