Monnier stressed that although Kalray is just starting out in a number
of professional-class applications where chip volumes are not as large
as in consumer applications its foundry supplier TSMC has been very
supportive. "We are not a small volume chip company although it may take
one, two, three years to become accepted in different markets," Monnier
said. "We started out two years ago with MPW [multiproject wafer] runs
to do test circuits but this chip [MPPA-256] is based on a full mask set
Monnier said he did not regret leaving off a
mainstream processor, such as an ARM core for housekeeping, off the chip
or to ease integration with other computational units. "It's not an
issue for Kalray. Linux is running on the processor," he said. He added
that the software development support that makes MPPA-256 easy to use
and program is an important part of the company's offering. "We have a
C-like language for dataflow applications and can run it intermixed with
C/C++ routines. The chip also has ample I/O channels including multiple
DDR, PCI and Interlaken interfaces.
But that could expose one
problem. It may be hard for the MPPA-256 to achieve its theoretical
maximum performance of 500-GOPS with the quoted typical 5-W power
consumption. Monnier admitted that with all the I/O going there could be
instantaneous demands that would push the device. "Everything going at
full speed could be 30 to 40 watts," he said.
Kalray has a
roadmap that includes the MPPA-512 and MPPA-1024 chips with
corresponding increases in the processing core count but he declined to
forecast when, or in what process technology, they would arrive. Instead
he emphasized derivatives of the MPPA-256. "There will be some
derivatives of the basic product to make them more specific for
Kalray is also expecting to make sales
of board-level and boxed products that can act as accelerators for
connection to a desktop computer or server.
"Early next year we
will offer a Kalray developer board with one MPPA-256 with an Intel
motherboard as a development tool for customers. Another board will have
multiple MPPA chips, a minimum of four, maybe six," said Monnier. After
nearly four years in development sales traction for the 50-person team
will, no doubt, be welcome.
Can anyone tell me how different is Kalray's solution compared to Simpulse's? They both look like doing high data rate signal processing so it would be interesting to see which applications they are best at and how they differentiate.
Simpluse is IP and tools only - no chip. A more relevant comparison is Adapteva's Epiphany, and the chip they did for BittWare called Anemone, which is a true C-programmable many-core floating point co-processor
And how does this compare to GPU chips? NVidia's Tesla has 3072 cores. And what about the Tilera 100 core processors?
Or are these geared toward a different, specific application than these other chips?
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.