The Parallella project will make parallel computing accessible to everyone

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Project Goals: Making parallel computing easy to use has been described as “a problem as hard as any that computer science has faced”. With such a big challenge ahead, we need to make sure that every programmer has access to cheap and open parallel hardware and development tools.

Inspired by great hardware communities like Raspberry Pi and Arduino, we see a critical need for a truly open, high-performance computing platform that will close the knowledge gap in parallel programing. The goal of the Parallella project is to democratize access to parallel computing. If we can pull this off, who knows what kind of breakthrough applications could arise? Maybe some of them will even change the world in some small but positive way.

The Parallella Computing Platform

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 To make parallel computing ubiquitous, developers need access to a platform that is affordableopen, and easy to use. The goal of the Parallella project is to provide such a platform! The Parallella platform will be built on the following principles:

  • Open Access: Absolutely no NDAs or special access needed! All architecture and SDK documents will be published on the web as soon as the Kickstarter project is funded.
  • Open Source: The Parallella platform will be based on free open source development tools and libraries. All board design files will be provided as open source once the Parallella boards are released.
  • Affordability: Hardware costs and SDK costs have always been a huge barrier to entry for developers looking to develop high performance applications. Our goal is to bring the Parallella high performance computer cost below $100, making it an affordable platform for all.

The Parallella platform is based on the Epiphany multicore chips developed by Adapteva over the last 4 years and field tested since May 2011. The Epiphany chips consists of a scalable array of simple RISC processors programmable in C/C++ connected together with a fast on chip network within a single shared memory architecture.

Here is a link to the Epiphany Architecture Reference Manual

Examples of the the scalable performance that can be achieved with the Epiphany architecture is shown in the following papers (with source code!).

Case #1: Using a Scalable Parallel 2D FFT for Image Enhancement

Case #2: Scalable Parallel Multiplication of Big Matrices

Parallella Computer Specifications

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The following list shows the major components planned for the Parallella computer:

  • Zynq-7010 Dual-core ARM A9 CPU
  • Epiphany Multicore Accelerator (16 or 64 cores)
  • 1GB RAM
  • MicroSD Card
  • USB 2.0 (two)
  • Two general purpose expansion connectors
  • Ethernet 10/100/1000
  • HDMI connection
  • Ships with Ubuntu OS
  • Ships with free open source Epiphany development tools that include C compiler, multicore debugger, Eclipse IDE, OpenCL SDK/compiler, and run time libraries.
  • Dimensions are 3.4” x 2.1”

Once completed, the 64-core version of the Parallella computer would deliver over 90 GFLOPS of performance and would have the the horse power comparable to a theoretical 45 GHz CPU [64 CPU cores * 700MHz] on a board the size of a credit card while consuming only 5 Watts under typical work loads.

For certain applications, this would provide raw performance than a high end server costing thousands of dollars and consuming 400W. For a better indication of true performance of the Epiphany-IV and Epiphany-III processors in standard benchmarks go to  http://www.coremark.org and check out our scores or read our blog post here.

The Team Behind Parallella

The Parallella project is being launched by Adapteva, a semiconductor startup company founded in 2008…

Read more:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/adapteva/parallella-a-supercomputer-for-everyone