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Merrimac - Supercomputing with Streams

Monday November 8, 2004
Hamerschlag Hall B-206
4:00 pm

Mattan Erez
Stanford University

The Merrimac streaming supercomputer project aims to develop a scientific computer that offers an order of magnitude or more improvement in performance per unit cost, unit power, and unit floor-space compared to cluster-based scientific computers built from the same underlying semiconductor and packaging technology. Merrimac's high efficiency arises from the stream architecture of the processing node and the advanced high-radix interconnection network used for communication between the nodes. The stream architecture matches the capabilities of modern semiconductor technology, which allows us to place hundreds of functional units on a single chip but provides limited global on-chip and off-chip bandwidths, with compute-intensive parallel applications. Organizing the computation into streams and exploiting the resulting locality using a register hierarchy enables a stream architecture to reduce the memory bandwidth required by representative computations by an order of magnitude or more. Hence a processing node with a fixed memory bandwidth (which is expensive) can support an order of magnitude more arithmetic units (which are inexpensive). Because each node has much greater performance (128 GFLOPSs in our current design) than a conventional microprocessor, a streaming supercomputer can achieve a given level of performance with fewer nodes, reducing costs, simplifying system management, and increasing reliability. In this talk I will sketch the design of the Merrimac streaming scientific computer that can be scaled from a $20K 2 TFLOPS workstation to a $20M 2PFLOPS supercomputer. I will also discuss some key characteristics of Merrimac that make it a good target for aggressive compiler optimizations, and present the results of some initial application experiments on this architecture.

Mattan Erez received a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering and a B.A. in Physics from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology in 1999. He subsequently received his M.S in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 2002. His previous work experience includes army service at a technical research branch of the Israeli Defense Force, and working as a computer architect in the Israeli Processor Architecture Research team, Intel Corporation. As a Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University he participated in the Smart Memories project and is currently the student leader of the Stanford Streaming Supercomputer project, where his main areas of interest are architecture and its interaction with the compilation system and the programmer.


Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringCarnegie Mellon UniversitySchool of Computer Science