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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Dataflow computer architecture : research and goals


The primary objective of the proposed research is to define and evaluate an architecture for a computer system comprising large numbers of small processors, thereby taking new advantage of LSI technology. Our premise, however, is that such a machine cannot be successful if based upon the usual von Neumann concepts of sequential control and the memory cell. Instead, we adopt the principles of dataflow as a more appropriate semantic base, since dataflow places no constraints on the order of execution other than the arrival of data. Such a basis appears very well suited to a technology disposed towards distributed processing.

We have developed so far both a high-level dataflow programming language and a base machine language into which programs are compiled for execution. We also have devised an interpreter for the base language capable of more highly asynchronous operation than other dataflow systems. It is the emulation of this interpreter that is the goal of the machine proposed here.

We feel that success in this work would be significant since such machines might not only speed the execution of programs, but may also allow the development and application of significant reliability and fail-soft techniques.

A second objective of the proposed work is to collect the experiences of others in using the particular high-level dataflow language we have devised, to improve it, and to determine how well people are able to program in dataflow.

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