PW/424 Caption

(C) 1986 INMOS

You're watching a demonstration of power, speed and exceptional performance.

You're watching a graphic sequence generated by the unique parallel processing capability of an inmos transputer.

At last you are watching - a whole new ballgame.


The technology which propels this butterfly is generated by a single microprocessor the IMS T414 32 bit transputer.

It's a complex task to drive the graphic screen and generate the animated picture.

While at the same time calculating the perspective of a three dimensional object in a two-dimensional medium.

A second butterfly is added and now both the unrelated processes are running on the same transputer.

Yet another yellow butterfly is drawn this time by a second transputer and displayed on an adjacent screen.

The synchronization of the two yellow butterflies is maintained by passing messages along a link between the two transputers.

This unique ability of transputers is further illustrated with the orange butterfly.

As the butterfly flies along the link between the two transputers, perfect synchronization is maintained.

This is despite the fact that at one point of the flight the two halves of the butterfly are being generated on adjacent screens by the two transputers.

It's this ability to communicate freely between one transputer and another which puts this microprocessor ahead of the field.

The problem with conventional microprocessors is that they communicate using a shared bus

and because only one transaction can take place at a time the result is a communication bottleneck.

Not so with the transputer. Its links are not shared. Each one connects just two transputers.

This allows each communication link to operate concurrently and yet independently of all other links.

In fact communication capability increases as more transputers are added into the system.

But as the curve on the graph dramatically shows this isn't possible with a conventional microprocessor.

As more are added they reduce the performance of the overall system.

And the peek would typically occur with about three to five processors on a single bus.

Contrast this with the red curve which shows that the performance of a multi transputer system actually increases linearly as more are added.

Joining transputers together means that the speed in which a problem can be solved increases proportionally as this display dramatically illustrates.

Here the left hand screen is being driven by one transputer while the one on the right is driven by an array of eight.

The left hand display is actually been drawn four times faster than if an IBM PC/AT was being used.

As similarly as the right hand display is driven by eight transputers it is being built another eight times faster.

It's a striking illustration of concurrency in action.

Independently computing each pixel color and assembling the lines involves many millions of calculations.

But the task is distributed over a number of transputers.

Spreading the workload in this way leads to a dramatic reduction in the time taken to build the complete display.

The massive computational power available from a network of transputers is demonstrated by a mathematical object of infinite complexity:

The Mandelbrot set.

To generate this image requires up to one hundred and fifty millions floating point operations.

But this is just the start. The boundary of the Mandelbrot set is a fractal.

This means that if you zoom in on any point of the display you find even greater complexity.

In effect the operation can be performed to infinity always finding more and more complexity within the image.

A Turbo Pascal version of the program running on an IBM PC/AT will take between six and fifteen hours to generate each image.

Here various views of the Mandelbrot set are being generated interactively by a network of ten transputers.

They take between two seconds and two minutes to generate the images.


Parallel processing also means flexibility because of the ease of merging functions.

This startling image results from combining the ray tracing of Newton's cradle and the Mandelbrot set displays.

It's yet another example of the unparalleled potential of parallel processing using the inmos transputer.

At last - it's a whole new ballgame.