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The Honeywell Experimental Distributed Processor -- An Overview

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000131221D
Original Publication Date: 1978-Jan-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Nov-10
Document File: 16 page(s) / 62K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

E. Douglas Jensen: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

The Honeywell Experimental Distributed Processor IHXDP) is a vehicle for research in the science and engineering of processor interconnection, executive control, and user software for a certain class of multiple- processor computers which we call ";distributed computer"; systems. Such systems are very unconventional in that they accomplish total system-wide executive control in the absence of any centralized procedure, data, or hardware. The primary benefits sought by this research are improvements over more conventional architectures /such as multi processors and computer networks) in extensibility, integrity, and performance. A fundamental thesis of the HXDP project is that the benefits and cost-effectiveness of distributed computer systems depend on the judicious use of hardware to control software costs.

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This record contains textual material that is copyright ©; 1978 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact the IEEE Computer Society http://www.computer.org/ (714-821-8380) for copies of the complete work that was the source of this textual material and for all use beyond that as a record from the SPI Database.

The Honeywell Experimental Distributed Processor -- An Overview

E. Douglas Jensen

Honeywell Systems and Research Center

E. Douglas Jensen Honeywell Systems and Research Center

Introduction

The Honeywell Experimental Distributed Processor IHXDP) is a vehicle for research in the science and engineering of processor interconnection, executive control, and user software for a certain class of multiple- processor computers which we call "distributed computer" systems. Such systems are very unconventional in that they accomplish total system-wide executive control in the absence of any centralized procedure, data, or hardware. The primary benefits sought by this research are improvements over more conventional architectures /such as multi processors and computer networks) in extensibility, integrity, and performance. A fundamental thesis of the HXDP project is that the benefits and cost-effectiveness of distributed computer systems depend on the judicious use of hardware to control software costs.

In this paper we describe the class of computer systems of interest to the HXDP project, the motivations for our interest, our research approach, the initial application environment, the HXDP system philosophy, and the HXDP hardware facilities as seen by the executive programmer. The software portion of the executive will be described in a subsequent paper.

We begin by clarifying our use of the term "distributed computer." Like Enslow,1 we view with dismay the current practice of labeling almost anything other than a uniprocessor as a "distributed processing" system. The various systems so labeled differ widely in kind, leaving the term "distributed processing" devoid of any substantive meaning. HXDP was named prior to our reaching this conclusion, but in this paper we abandon the term "distributed processing" as being beyond redemption; instead, we identify systems of interest to the HXDP project as "distributed computers."

We define a fully distributed computer to be a multiplicity of processors that are physically and logically interconnected to form a single system, in which overall executive control is exercised through the cooperation of decentralized system elements. It is not sufficient that the processors appear to the user as a virtual single system -- they must constitute an actual single system at all levels of abstraction. Conceptually, a single executive manages all of the system's physical and logical resources in an integrated fashion, but its kernel logic (perhaps hardware as well as software) and data struc...