Erlang on "Cell" Architectures

Jani Launonen <>
Tue Feb 8 23:02:50 CET 2005


On Tue, 8 Feb 2005, Geoff White wrote:

> http://www.blachford.info/computer/Cells/Cell0.html
>
> Have any Erlangers out there evaluated or mused on the implications of Erlang
> on such an architecture? If so can you (are you allowed) to talk about it?
> IT seems like an architecture that is just ripe for Erlang (or a derivative 
> language).

Well, Cell seems to have a PowerPC core in it and the EVM runs on PPC. The 
memory architechture might require some tinkering, I'd guess. Perhaps the 
PPC core isn't that different from application perspective than usual PPC 
processors.

The 8 vector processors might be different matter. I doubt if Erlang EVM 
could run on one of those (does they have suitable instruction set for 
general purpose computing?) --- certainly capability to process 4 x 32-bit 
floating point numbers isn't something that average Erlang application 
could exploit. I have just scanned through some Cell articles, so I might 
be missing some important points. The idea having an Erlang prosess per SPE 
(or APU) is a nice pipe dream, though :)

However --- I've several years thought that VLIW processor might be quite 
good for interpreting EVM. I've tinkered about with Philips' TriMedia VLIW 
multimedia CPU (nowadays known as nexperia: 
http://www.semiconductors.philips.com/products/nexperia/ ) some years ago 
and although containing some special instructions and execution units 
geared to multimedia processing it is general purpose CPU. One thing that I 
think EVM could exploit in TriMedia is it's ability to calculate 3 branch 
targets at once. I'm under impression that interpreting is quite branch 
intensive task. The emulator guys could have different opinions, of course. 
They should know. I wonder if I still have access to TriMedia cycle 
accurate simulator in university's computers and how difficult EVM is to 
port... just a thought job.

If you're interested, you could check slideshow about Erlang processor at 
http://www.erlang.se/euc/00/processor.ppt Unfortunately no news have been 
heard about Erlang processor's status for couple of years... :(

If the Erlang processor model could be open sourced... :)

Cheers,

-+-+-+-
Jani Launonen 
Student. . . . . . . . . .University of Oulu, Dept. of El. & Inf. Eng.

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making future plans."
  - Alfred E. Neuman



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