2/25/2004 - Synergy Microsystems Inc. (Synergy) announced its first VME board to break the 50-GFLOPS barrier. The new Manta QX design integrates four G4 7457 microprocessors within a “tightly coupled” architecture for optimal Symmetric Multiprocessing (SMP)—enabling several different applications to run independently on different processors or a single multi-threaded application to simultaneously run multiple tasks. The new approach provides unprecedented compute density without the latency bottlenecks associated with distributed processing designs.
Two gigabytes of 133-MHz DDR SDRAM and three levels of cache support complement Manta QX’s 1.3-GHz CPU cycle speeds, enabling ultra-efficient SMP processing. To accommodate this greatly increased processing bandwidth, a switched-fabric interconnect, StarFabric from StarGen, was integrated into the design to allow non-blocking data transfers between nodes. “The extreme compute density of the Manta gives DSP designers today a building-block SBC that can be configured in a number of ways to deliver new multiples in speed and throughput, and opens up another level of design possibilities for embedded distributed processing systems,” Synergy CEO Thomas Powell said.
Manta Targets Data Intensive Applications
Powell said that Manta QX signals a new class of open-standard SBCs from Synergy that creates an adaptive SMP framework for a wide range of systems—from medical imaging to scientific high-performance compute clusters—using a low power, quad core and a redundant switch fabric for extreme node-to-node throughput. “SMP and StarFabric give us massive processing power and connectivity for both single and clustered-board configurations at performance levels unlikely to be matched in the near future. Total power consumption is under 60 watts, well within the range of most environments.”
SMP Efficiency Reduces Latency and Eases Programming Effort
The only quad gigahertz board in the market today with a SMP architecture, Manta QX enables all four 1.3-GHz PowerPC 7457 CPUs to simultaneously process large data sets using a highly efficient core architecture. The board’s physical memory is accessible and “visible” to all CPUs on the Manta simultaneously. Because these nodes share a common 64-bit memory bus, latency is minimized as the need to shunt data between independent memories is eliminated. The design also spares programmers from having to write software to partition tasks or move data between processors because the SMP OS allocates tasks in real-time. “This is a high-performance approach for massive computational problems with large data sets due to the system’s low overhead and individual processors’ ability to quickly share access to the entire data set in physical memory,” said Powell.
The design is equally beneficial to non-SMP operating systems noted Powell. “The Manta QX’s tightly coupled memory-to-CPU architecture can easily be optimized for other real-time operating systems to provide significant performance upgrade capability for existing programs.”
Onboard StarFabric Enables High-speed Clustered Computing
The switched-fabric provides an aggregate 400 MB/s of full-duplex switching, enabling greater flexibility in processor-to-processor and chassis-to-chassis configurations. StarFabric’s extensibility offers virtually unlimited system configurations, “Twenty Manta QX’s will fit nicely into a 19-inch rack-mounted 6U VME chassis, for example, providing a full teraflop of performance in a mere two cubic feet.” For systems with space constraints, Synergy’s exclusive backplane overlay allows up to eight boards to communicate in a tight cluster, providing up to 400 GFLOPS of raw compute power.
Extensive I/O Options
The Manta QX combines high-speed performance with an abundance of I/O options, including two gigabit Ethernet ports, four asynchronous serial channels, two IEEE 1394 ports and one industry standard 32/64-bit, 33/66 MHz PMC site.
Strong Software Support
Synergy has one of the most experienced and talented software engineering teams in the industry. Their deep knowledge of real-time operating systems has resulted in robust board support packages (BSPs) for VxWorks/Tornado, Linux, Linux SMP and INTEGRITY. These BSPs have been fine-tuned to support fast boot-up, robust device driver optimization and extreme ease of use.
Synergy also provides STAR/ASTRix, a versatile firmware package for system monitoring and diagnostics, which includes power-up and Built-in Self Test as well as extensive configuration, memory management and networking tools. In addition to operating system and firmware support, Synergy offers a comprehensive DSP Math Library, and an advanced Global Buffer Manager which supports shared memory over StarFabric. These libraries greatly simplify implementation of high-performance signal- and image-processing applications.
Synergy Microsystems, Inc. (www.synergymicro.com) specializes in the design, manufacture and integration of single- and multi-processor, single-board computers for VME and CompactPCI systems to meet the needs of demanding real-time applications in military, aerospace, DSP, and industrial/commercial markets. Synergy has a long track record of extracting the highest possible performance from current and emerging SBC technologies, then supporting these technologies through extended product lifecycles. In business since 1985 under the original ownership, the corporation is privately held, with facilities in San Diego, CA. and Tucson, AZ.
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