Documenting the Coming Singularity

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Polymorphic Hardware is Here

In imitation of the human brain, we already have neural nets, software designed to use the "massively parallel" processing ability of our grey matter to learn and adapt to different situations and data. But in terms of the adaptability of the actual hardware, our brains had a monopoly on that trick, until now.

Raytheon has created a new type of processor, which it has named MONARCH (Morphable Networked Micro-Architecture), whose architecture "can adopt different forms depending on their application."
"Typically, a chip is optimally designed either for front-end signal processing or back-end control and data processing," explained Nick Uros, vice president for the Advanced Concepts and Technology group of Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems. "The MONARCH micro-architecture is unique in its ability to reconfigure itself to optimize processing on the fly. MONARCH provides exceptional compute capacity and highly flexible data bandwidth capability with beyond state-of-the-art power efficiency, and it's fully programmable."

In addition to the ability to adapt its architecture for a particular objective, the MONARCH computer is also believed to be the most power- efficient processor available.

"In laboratory testing MONARCH outperformed the Intel quad-core Xeon chip by a factor of 10," said Michael Vahey, the principal investigator for the company's MONARCH technology.

MONARCH's polymorphic capability and super efficiency enable the development of DoD systems that need very small size, low power, and in some cases radiation tolerance for such purposes as global positioning systems, airborne and space radar and video processing systems.

The company has begun tests on prototypes of the polymorphic MONARCH processors to verify they'll function as designed and to establish their maximum throughput and power efficiency. MONARCH, containing six microprocessors and a highly interconnected reconfigurable computing array, provides 64 gigaflops (floating point operations per second) with more than 60 gigabytes per second of memory bandwidth and more than 43 gigabytes per second of off-chip data bandwidth.

Friends, it's these paradigm-changing developments that go unnoticed by the mainstream press that are so significant to you and me. Remaining unaware of advances like this, and being ignorant of their significance, allows the public to maintain it's intuitive sense that technological progress is advancing linearly. We continue to think that Star Trek TNG is a reasonable portrayal of human life in the 24th century. It's not. Tech is advancing geometrically. Let's stay aware.