The Bristol-based company Meiko Scientific Ltd has recently made a stand via product launches (CI No 1,205) to tell the UK that parallel processing is no longer a technical curiosity. The products in question are its In-Sun family of Transputer-based Computing Surface Boards, and its new set of CS Tools for developing portable parallel applications […]
The Bristol-based company Meiko Scientific Ltd has recently made a stand via product launches (CI No 1,205) to tell the UK that parallel processing is no longer a technical curiosity. The products in question are its In-Sun family of Transputer-based Computing Surface Boards, and its new set of CS Tools for developing portable parallel applications in Fortran or C. The MK200 board has four 10 MIPS processors, each with up to 12Mb of memory; the MK201 is an add-in board for Sun-3 and Sun-4 workstations with eight five-VAX-MIPS application processors, each with up to 8Mb of memory; the MK202 is also an add-in board with 16 five-VAX-MIPS application processors, each with up to 2Mb of memory; while the MK203 provides up to four users with from four to 16 T800 user processors. Up to four of each of these boards in any configuration can be inserted into a single workstation. Originally, IBM MS-DOS micros fronted Meiko technology but by moving to Sun workstations Meiko says it is going upmarket in a bid to deliver to the wider commercial market. The In-Sun Computing Surface family can be slotted into individual Sun workstations or put into servers for sharing resources over a network. For example, the Sun-3/260 server can take four or five boards giving it up to 64 processors and increasing its computational power by up to two orders of magnitude. Sun machines can be upgraded to supercomputer performance by buying the boards (for a starting price of UKP8,500) or the user can buy a complete turnkey system (with a starting price of UKP33,000) from Meiko, which is one of Sun’s largest OEM customers in Europe. Probably the most interesting part of this product announcement, however, was the unveiling of the CS Tools, which enable straightforward programming techniques to be used to develop applications in the parallel processing environment, as all the boards have ANSI Fortran 77 and C compilers. Furthermore, parallelism is embodied in the tools which can be used by teams of developers on a network to write parallel applications. The Meiko software environment also comes complete with dbxtool symbolic debugging for run-time proving of finished applications. Meiko believes its parallel processing environment is now ideal for commercial use in areas such as dealing room systems and claims that parallelism (not necessarily tied to Transputer capability) will enable the company to grow as big as Sun or DEC. Indeed, Meiko’s co-founder Miles Chesney ended his presentation with the appeal: don’t regard us as British – we don’t intend to fail. That’s the kind of spirit we like.