UK parallel processing specialist Real World Graphics has abandoned its Motorola 88000-based Reality and Super Reality graphics supercomputers, announced last October (CI No 1,0340 in favour of new versions using Intel Corp’s 80860 processor – and is claiming to be the first company to use the one million transistor part in a commercial product. Very […]
UK parallel processing specialist Real World Graphics has abandoned its Motorola 88000-based Reality and Super Reality graphics supercomputers, announced last October (CI No 1,0340 in favour of new versions using Intel Corp’s 80860 processor – and is claiming to be the first company to use the one million transistor part in a commercial product. Very late delivery of the 88000’s external cache chips is thought to be one reason for the change, necessitating several redesigns over the 18 months product development cycle, according to one source, and the company found that it had to parallelise more 88000s than originally expected. The changeover was very simple, said marketing manager Norman Garland, as all graphics functions are implemented in software. Hertford-based Real World has now introduced its Reality single board VME system (which can be used in multiple configurations) for availability this month, but in September promises the new version of its Super Reality model, a parallel processor with geometry, rendering channels and frame buffers on separate boards. Both systems are designed for multi-channel display configurations for use in simulation systems. Performance from a fully populated Super Reality with up to 80 80860s should be around 1000 MFlops, said Garland. And Real World says it has hidden the parallelism from the applications program by using proprietary hardware and software technology, enabling both geometry and rendering functions to be programmed in an essentially sequential fashion using C, Fortran or Pascal. The VME board Reality product, which can be hosted within a workstation, has two 80860 processors with 4Mb or 16Mb memory and a 1,024 by 1,024 frame buffer with four overlay planes. Super Reality consists of both Geometry and Rendering boards, each with four 80860 processors providing several hundred MIPS and MFLOPS. Up to 20 boards can be used in a single system, which can be configured as a terminal product with standard interfaces, as a self contained workstation with local disks and networking, or anywhere between. There is a full set of graphics subroutines based on Phigs+, and Software System’s Multigen package for the production and editing of real-time three-dimensional databases and models is also available. Prices in the UK start at UKP18,000 for Reality, and UKP25,000 for a single board Super Reality, but the company has also set up US distribution through Simulation Technologies Inc of Boston and Philadelphia, as well as European distribution through CFE SA of Paris. Three year old Real World was set up by Graham Rowan, who pioneered the use of personal computer graphics cards through his IO Research Ltd company in the early 1980s. Stratus Computer, which committed itself to the Motorola 88000 in April 1988, similarly changed tack in favour of the 80860 a year later. But Apple Computer Inc may turn out to be a late coup in Motorola’s efforts to establish its RISC developments, with gossip flying that Apple’s RISC evaluation team, headed by Ridge Computer co-founder John Sell, may have opted for the 88000 in its quest for an engine to drive a new range of systems aimed at the high-end workstation market. Apple, which is said to have combed the field for RISC processors, including the more unfashionable options such as Advanced Micro Devices’ 29000 and Acorn Computers’ Acorn RISC machine chip, is now expected to opt for the 88000 because of closer backward compatibility with its current Motorola 68000 family systems.