Tech Report CS-93-20

Horizons of Parallel Computation

Gianfranco Bilardi and Franco P. Preparata

May 1993


This paper considers the ultimate impact of fundamental physical limitations---notably, speed of light and device size---on parallel computing machines. Although we fully expect an innovative and very gradual evolution to the limiting situation, here we take the provocative view of exploring the consequences of the accomplished attainment of the physical bounds. The main result is that scalability holds only for neighborly interconnections, such as the square mesh, of bounded-size synchronous modules, presumably of the area-universal type. We also discuss the ultimate infeasibility of latency-hiding, the violation of intuitive maximal speedups, and the emerging novel processor-time tradeoffs.

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