Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Modern PC coprocessors

As of 2002, dedicated Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) in the form of graphics cards are commonplace. Certain models of sound cards have been fitted with dedicated processors providing digital multichannel mixing and real-time DSP effects as early as 1990 to 1994 (the Gravis Ultrasound and Sound Blaster AWE32 being typical examples), while the Sound Blaster Audigy and the Sound Blaster X-Fi are more recent examples.

In 2006, AGEIA announced an add-in card for computers that it calls PhysX. PhysX is designed to perform complex physics computations so that the CPU and GPU do not have to perform these time consuming calculations. It is designed to work with video games, although other mathematical uses could theoretically be developed for it. In 2008 Nvidia purchased the PhysX card and began to phase out the card line; the functionality was added through software allowing the GPU to render PhysX on cores normally used for graphics processing the same way CUDA works. Consequently, it can be said that in the future role of math or physics add-in cards will remain a niche.

In 2006, BigFoot Systems unveiled a PCI add-in card they christened the KillerNIC which ran its own special Linux kernel on a FreeScale PowerQUICC running at 400 MHz, calling the FreeScale chip a Network Processing Unit or NPU.

The SpursEngine is a media-oriented add-in card with a coprocessor based on the Cell microarchitecture.

In 2008 Khronos Group released the OpenCL with the aim to support general purpose CPUs and both ATI/AMD and Nvidia GPUs, with a single common language.

In 2012 Intel announced the Intel Xeon Phi Co-processor.

No comments:

Post a Comment