A Massively Parallel Computing Solution
The Challenge of Complex, Unstructured Data
Many of today’s most challenging computer science problems involve very large data structures, unstructured data, random access, or real-time data analysis. These computationally intensive problems are not well aligned with traditional CPU and memory system architectures; they require a fundamentally new approach to computing. Micron’s Automata Processor is a massively parallel computer architecture that provides dramatic processing efficiencies.
Read the press release
How Automata Processing Creates Order From Chaos
Micron’s Automata Processor (AP) is a programmable silicon device, capable of performing high-speed, comprehensive search and analysis of complex, unstructured data streams. The AP is not a memory device, but it is memory based. It leverages the intrinsic parallelism of DRAM to answer questions about data as it is streamed across the chip.
Unlike a conventional CPU, the AP is a scalable, two-dimensional fabric comprised of thousands to millions of interconnected processing elements, each programmed to perform a targeted task or operation. Whereas conventional parallelism consists of a single instruction applied to many chunks of data, the AP focuses a vast number of instructions at a targeted problem, thereby delivering unprecedented performance.
Ecosystem and Tools
Micron is working with a number of leading researchers and ecosystem partners to build the ecosystem necessary to facilitate AP adoption. Georgia Tech, the University of Missouri, and the University of Virginia are among those using the AP to develop new applications. Graphic design and simulation tools, along with a software development kit (SDK), to enable developers to design, compile, test, and deploy their own applications using the AP will be available in 2014.
Related Resources and Articles
An Efficient and Scalable Semiconductor Architecture for Parallel Automata Processing
A technical paper presenting the design and development of the Automata Processor, to appear in IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems. Download
Two Views of the Post PC World - Automata Processor and TOMI Celeste
- Appendix: Supplementary material, including additional details about the Automata Processor architecture and an extensive review of relevant literature. Download
- Supplementary Video Simulations: Video captures from runs of the Micron AP Workbench, a visual editor for creating, visualizing and simulating Micron’s Automata Processor. View the videos
This three-part article by Russell Fish, EDN, discusses the dominant trends in the future of computing.
Does anyone else have this type of solution?
As far as we know, Micron is the only company that has implemented a technology like this on this scale.
How do we know this isn’t vaporware?
Micron has taped out the first silicon and has prototypes in-house at the Boise facility; samples will be available in 2014.
How does this impact the industry as a whole?
It liberates computer scientists from the constraints of the Von Neumann architecture, allowing them to implement a level of parallelism previously unattainable. The AP will allow unprecedented computing power to be deployed throughout the industry, which can power innovation in ways we might not have even thought of.
What does the implementation of the AP look like? What challenges are there with this implementation?
The AP uses a DDR3-like memory interface chosen to simplify the physical design-in process for system integrators. The AP will be made available as single components or as DIMM modules, enhancing the integration process. A PCIe board populated with AP DIMMs will be available to early access application developers to jump-start plug-in development of AP applications.
What is available today?
Micron is working with initial partners and early adopters. We intend to make the SDK available the first part of 2014.
What is the value that the Automata Processor brings? What are the measurable benefits?
Many of today’s most challenging computer science problems require highly parallel methods to solve. In conventional computing, parallelism involves the same operation being computed on many chunks of data at once and can be cumbersome and complex, often requiring significant effort on the part of programmers and system designers. The Automata Processor’s parallelism exploits the very high and natural parallelism found in Micron’s semiconductor devices—a different kind of parallelism that is more appropriate than conventional CPUs for the class of problems the AP targets. By answering thousands or even millions of different questions about data as it is being streamed across the chip, the AP provides an architecture that delivers the parallelism required to address problems in an efficient, manageable method.
What makes it so different?
The AP is not a memory device, but it is memory based. Unlike a conventional CPU, the AP is a scalable two-dimensional fabric comprised of thousands of processing elements each programmed to perform a targeted task or operation, ultimately delivering unprecedented performance. Additionally, the AP is massively parallel. Whereas conventional CPU architectures can have anywhere from 2 to 64 processors, an AP can encompass hundreds of thousands or even millions of tiny processors.
Who can use the AP?
Applications with large, unstructured sets of data, or applications that require real time-results, such as cyber security, bioinformatics, big data analytics, and video/image analysis, are examples where the AP could deliver significant value.
Why is current technology unable to provide this same value?
The sequential instruction processing nature of conventional CPU/GPU architectures is not well aligned to the class of problems addressed by the AP.
Will there be tools available to support the adoption of the AP?
Micron is developing a full suite of tools and materials for developers to design, compile, test, and deploy applications using the AP. Visit micron.com for more information.