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DSP cards for SPARC systems

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See also:-

article:- Sun, SPARC and Solaris Highlights and Lowlights in 2004
article:- Surviving the Solaris x86 Wars
article:- Serial Attached SCSI - What You Need to Know
article:- Why Sun Should Acquire a Solid State Disk Company
article:- Hardware Upgrades to Make Your Sun SPARC Server Go Faster
article:- Flash Solid State Disks - Inferior Technology or Closet Superstar?
article:- How Many SPARC Processors?
Audio Interfaces, Storage interface ICs, processors & accelerator chips, Solid state disks, Graphics Adapters & Video Cards, compact PCI SPARC SBCs, Military SPARC, Desktop SPARC Workstations, SBus & PCI cards, SPARC manufacturers, SPARC news

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RES-302s upto 2 x SPARC processor rugged server
rugged SPARC servers

SiliconDrives from SiliconSystems
2.5" SiliconDrives
from SiliconSystems

click to read article by BiTMICRO Networks
Solid State Disks:- Pushing the Envelope in Blade Server Design - article by BiTMICRO

"In terms of power consumption, mechanical hard disks typically devour around 500mA while flash SSDs consume a mere 50mA. The difference may seem insignificant in small enterprise apps, but for huge data farms, the cost savings become apparent. This further enhances the blade server's advantage over proprietary systems with regard to operational costs. The reliable performance of mechanical disk drives can only be ensured if these drives operate within specified temperature ranges. As drive manufacturers introduce newer models featuring spindle speeds as high as 15,000 RPM, cooling has emerged as a major issue." ... read the article, ...BiTMICRO profile
Analog Devices

Berkeley Camera Engineering

Communication Automation

National Instruments


SBS Technologies

Sky Computers


Transtech DSP

Traquair Data Systems

Nibble Re: DSP Cards for Sun

Digital Signal Processors
(DSPs) are typically optimised for performing Fast Fourier Transforms (FFTs) in real-time. Their characteristics include fast multiply and bit shifting performance, predictable instruction execution times, and direct on chip I/O ports.

The first DSP chip was the Intel 2920 introduced in 1979. At a time when all other processors only had 8 bit intsruction sets, the 2920 had an impressive looking 24 bit word. However early generations of DSP were aimed at voice processing in the telecoms market, and Intel's MOS processing technologies were optimised for high logic density rather than analog capability, so I remember thinking that the onchip ADCs on early Intel processors such as the 8022 etc were rubbish. Plainly other engineers were underimpressed too, because Intel never became successful in the DSP market, and exited the low end DSP market soon after. However, some systems vendors used Intel's i860 graphics optimised RISC processor as a DSP engine.

Many other semiconductor manufacturers entered the high volume DSP market, and probably the most successful has been Texas Instruments.

DSP cards started appearing for use in Sun systems in the mid 1980s before Sun launched its first SPARC processor. A popular demo my company used to run at Sun Expos included a Sun-3 (68020) processor running with an Analogic array processor. The demo started with a photo of a desert scene which seemingly included nothing more than sand and rocks. Running the pattern recognition software eventually stripped away the camouflage to reveal a hidden tank. Another, less politically correct version of this demo involved a model wearing a string vest.

Although SPARC processors have adequate DSP performance, they are uneconomic for use in applications which require large numbers of DSP channels. So most DSP cards for SPARC systems actually use a variety of other processors to implement the DSP functionality.

A typical application for SPARC hosted DSP systems is intelligence gathering. For example millions of telephone voice lines are analysed in real-time by banks of DSPs which trigger on key words and phrases. For example the word "bomb". The technology is so good nowadays, that the software generated report which accompanies these intercepts can even rocognise the voice of target suspects.

The biggest commercial application for DSPs is still the telecoms market. DSPs implement the hands free voice based input for value added services implemented by some PTTs. However, the most impressive demo I saw recently was in my wife's combined PDA and cellphone. If she says "phone Ann" - the PDA knows who Ann is, looks up the phone number and dials it.

SPARC systems have been too expensive to get used much in industry, but a typical industrial application of DSP technology is monitoring rotating machinery to detect wear out and predict failures before they become catastrophic.

SPARC systems are still widely used in research labs, although the end products such as in car noise cancellation (based on earlier research into making quiet helicopters) will typically be implemented by something a lot cheaper and smaller than a workstation.
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