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The homogeneous machine


Locanthi, Bart N. (1980) The homogeneous machine. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/0jdc-9578.


The advance of semiconductor technology is bringing about rapid changes in the scale and performance of integrated systems, thus also in their economics and potential applications. The highly visible and readily quantified changes in measures such as the number of transistors are accompanied by more subtle but increasingly significant shifts in fundamental relationships affecting system design. Specifically, as transistors become smaller, faster, and lower power, the wires used to interconnect them are becoming slower. These shifts, along with the challenge of managing the complexity of designs with millions of switching elements, are forcing a new look at alternative computer architectures which use ensembles of computing elements under restricted and regular interconnection.

This thesis addresses the problem of orchestrating many computing elements in the performance of general-purpose computations. There are three major obstacles in the way of this goal. First, it must be possible to express programs in a notation that allows concurrency to be discovered and exploited. Second, it must be possible to map computations onto a physical structure for execution by multiple computing elements. Third, such computing elements must be provided rapid access to storage while at the some time avoiding contention.

This thesis presents a scheme which automatically detects and exploits concurrencies in computations expressed in an applicative subset of the LISP programming language. The mapping of numerical and symbolic computations onto array and tree structures is also investigated.

This thesis approaches the design of multiprocessor systems as a problem in bandwidth reduction. To this end, the concept of a multi-level cache is introduced. The discussion culminates with a description of a multi-level LISP system implemented on a tree of processors. This implementation provides each processor with a superset of the address space of its immediate ancestor. Memory allocation and garbage collection for this machine are described and a simple example of its operation is given.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Computer Science
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Seitz, Charles L.
Thesis Committee:
  • Seitz, Charles L. (chair)
  • Mead, Carver
  • Sutherland, Ivan Edward
Defense Date:21 January 1980
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-10092006-142135
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:3995
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:17 Oct 2006
Last Modified:19 Apr 2021 22:30

Thesis Files

PDF (Locanthi_bn_1980.pdf) - Final Version
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