transputer

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transputer A high-performance microcomputer, devised and manufactured by the UK company INMOS (now part of STMicroelectronics), designed to facilitate interprocess and interprocessor communication. The transputer comprises a 32-bit RISC processor with fast on-chip static RAM, process scheduling in hardware with a submicrosecond context switch, external memory controller, and high-speed serial links. The T9000 processor provides a 32-bit integer processor, a 64-bit floating-point processor and a 16 Kbyte cache memory as well as a communications processor and four high-bandwidth serial links. Implementation of advanced packet switched communication structures can be accomplished by employing other special support components.

A single transputer is a powerful processor in its own right: the serial links allow an architecture in which transputers are arranged in an array, each communicating with its four nearest neighbors. With suitable algorithms this permits very high performance on complex numerical problems.

The transputer is programmed in occam: the program architecture of processes communicating through channels can be implemented by time-slicing a single computer, or by using multiple transputers, when the serial links provide the channels. Applications of the transputer in pipelines and arrays have demonstrated that it is a successful low-cost approach to achieving a high parallel-processing rate.