English Version

Galushkin Aleksandr
, neurocomputer@yandex.ru

Transputer Systems is the Beginning of Computers with Massive Parallelism in Russia

First information about transputers became available at the beginning of the eighties of the last century. Objectively it was caused by the possibility to realize 16-digital (later 32-digital) microprocessor, memory and four channel adapters in a crystal. First foreign patterns of transputer systems showed their effectiveness (1987-1990)

To further develop neurocomputer systems in Russia, the agreement with the Coordination Center on Computer Science of Bulgarian Academy of Science was made. According to the agreement, the Russian enterprises were to receive transputer systems of the following types:

1. Transputer APM;

2. Transputer APM of medium productivity;

3. Transputer APM of high productivity;

4. Transputer APM of super high productivity;

5. Transputer graphic station;

6. Transputer system of image processing;

7. Transputer APM with disk subsystems.

During 1991-1992 were delivered more than 150 transputer systems.

The parameters of transputer systems are briefly presented in the report.

1. Transputer systems

The massive parallel computer is the computer with the processor number 4, 8, 10, 16, 32, 128, 256, 512, 1024 and more, where the principle of a linear (or almost linear) productivity increases, depending on the processor number (physical volume or cost). This type of computers was caused by the development of transputer T414 by the English company Inmos. In the transputer, based on a crystal the following composites were realized (Picture 1):

- 32 digit microprocessor;

-the inner crystal MD with the volume 2 Kbytes;

- the four channel adapters.

It took about five years for the Inmos company to develop the next version of transputer T800 (Picture 2). Two blocks had been introduced:

- the block of operation performance with floating point;

- the inner crystal MD with the volume 4 Kbytes;

The well developed software, the system of interface SBIS (channel, graphic, image input and others), the system of problem oriented SBIS (signal and image processing, disk systems, trigonometric functions realization, etc.) were certainly the advantages of transputer ideology of super high efficient computers.The interface and problem-oriented transputer SBIS possessed, as well as transputers, the feature of cascadibility, using the standard communication channels.

2. Transputer systems of general use

The most common version of transputer system, which allowed then to build supercomputer out of a standard computer 286, includes interface board (picture 1) and mother board (chart 3 and picture 2), making it possible to install transputer modules of size 1 (picture 3) up to 8 units on it; size 2 up to 4 units and size 4 up to 2 units (picture 4) in any combination.The highest productivity of a maximum configuration was equal to 1,5 MFLOPS or 90 MIPS at the rather low computer productivity. Even at that time it had been already noted that transputer systems are of universal use for the tasks, allowing deparallelism of algorithms. The programming systems of the following languages were delivered to the transputer working place:

  • Occam 2 (original t TDS or MS-DOS environment);

  • Parallel C; (environment MS-DOS)

  • Parallel Fortran; (environment MS-DOS)

  • Parallel Pascal; (environment MS-DOS)

  • LISP, Prolog; (environment MS-DOS)

  • , Fortran, Pascal, Modula-2 Helios environment (Unix V analog);

  • Transputer assembler

Picture 1. The architecture of transputer T414

Picture 2. The architecture of transputer T800

Picture 3. The architecture of transputer working place with mother transputer board and the possibility of the installation daughter transputer modules

Photo1. Interface transputer board

Photo 2. Mother board of the transputer

Photo 3. Transputer module, size 1

Photo 4. Transputer modules, size 2 and 4

The scheme of transputer work place of medium productivity, containing two boards the interface board with one transputer and base board with four transputers (picture 5) are depicted in picture 4. The highest productivity of the system is 7,5 MFLOPS or 50 MIPS.

In photo 5 one of the most popular at the beginning of the nineties configurations is presented. It shows the transputer work place with interface transputer board and one or a few boards, on every of which 10 transputers were placed (photo 6) with the local memory 1 Mbytes.

The user may have the working station, containing a few dozens of transputers. In case with one 10-transputer board, the productivity of such a working place could reach 16,5 MFLOPS or 110 MIPS. It should be noted that the productivity of the most common at that time computers of ES series reached only few MFLOPS, and the computer was a construction, included a few stands and covering a big area (dozens of square meters

The software, mentioned earlier for the simplest transputer system, remained the samefor the other configurations.

3. Specialized transputer systems

One of the positive features of transputer systems, currently poorly realized in modern cluster supercomputers was the possibility of specialized for class tasks realization architectures.

Picture 4. The architecture of a working place of a medium productivity.

Photo 5. Transputer board with four transputers.

Picture 5. The architecture of the transputer work place with one or a few dozen-transputer boards.

Photo 6. Transputer board with ten transputers

They were:

- transputer graphic stations;

- transputer systems of image processing;

- transputer systems of signal processing;

- transputer disk subsystems.

3.1 Graphic stations

Photo 6 shows the architecture of transputer graphic station, where the following features were realized:

- programmable topology;

- scaled productivity;

- solution 1280 x 1024 and higher;

- colors up to 16106 shades (8, 18, 24 bit for pixel);

- 25-30 sequences per second.

The following systems were in the software for transputer graphic station:

- Graphic libraries and language systems Parallel C, Parallel Fortran, Parallel Pascal;

- Server for MS Windows;

- X-Window system ( HELIOS).

The main areas of these stations were:

- graphic systems of real time: tomography, virtual systems;

- systems of modeling objects, media, processes;

- various systems of automatic controls;

- scientific visualization:

- molecular modeling,

- computational hydrodynamics;

- synthesis of realistic images, commercials, computer films.

Picture 6. Transputer graphic station

Photo 7. Transputer module of graphic adapter

3.2 Transputer systems of signals processing

The specialized transputer work stations for signal processing were crucially important and rather widely used at the beginning of the nineties of the last century.The foundation of these systems was a specialized transputer for signal processing IMS A100 (its scheme is depicted in the picture 7). Similar hardware realization of cascading Z-filter with shifting digits of weight coefficients, to our minds, is of great importance today and in the future with the use of the current microelectronics technology. Pictures 8, 9 show the scheme of transputer work place for signal processing and the scheme of APS-PC-DSP board on the base of the signal processors IMS A100 (picture 8). It should be noted that the transputer working place for signal processing might contain a few cascading APS-PC-DSP boards. If there was only one such board, then:

- productivity for signal processing 1280 MOPS;

- maximum speed of input signals up to 10 Msamples/sec;

- productivity of transputer net


If two additional TRAM are purchased


If 8 TRAM size 1 are purchased


The language for programming on a working place isOccam2 in TDS environment with the help of the base system DSP DS.

Five more examples for signal processing were presented.

Application areas:

- analysis of a signal, synthesis of a signal shape;

- radar, sonar stations of a small capacity;

- processing, image contraction, television;

- document processing, letter sorting out, luggage checking;

- recognition of printed and written symbols;

- other applications.

Picture 7. Structure scheme of the specialized transputer for signal processing JMS A100

Picture 8. The scheme of transputer work place for signal processing

Picture 9. The scheme of the specialized transputer board for signal processing

Photo 8. Specialized transputer board for signal processing

Photo 9. Transputer modules ACP and CAP signals

3.3 Transputer systems for image processing

Picture 10 shows the scheme of transputer system of image processing. A special transputer module of image input is placed on the mother board (picture 10).

The main parameters of the transputer scheme for the image processing are the following:

- programmable topology;

- scaled productivity;

- solution 1024 x 1024;

- image processing in a real time scale;

-grey and colored images;

- high productivity/cost.

The following software were used in the system:

- libraries of functions for image processing IPLIB, IPAL for the languages Parallel C, Occam 2, Parallel Fortran;

- configuration TINY control router, GENESIS program.

This system was applied in the following areas:

- system of technical vision;

- industrial automatization;

- robots;

- medicine, biology, metallurgy and others: image analysis and processing;

- satellite systems of observation: ecology, mapping, and others.

More developed transputer system of image processing contained specialized boards on the base SBIS IMS A110. Picture 11, 12 shows structure board schemes and SBIS IMS A 110

Picture 10. Transputer system of image processing

Photo 10. Transputer module for images input

Picture. 11. Structure scheme of the transputer board for images processing on the base SBIS IMS A110

Picture 12. Structure scheme SBIS IMS A110 specialized transputer for image processing

3.4 Disk subsystems

The transputer systems became predecessors of the modern disk systems, realizing massives RAID. At the beginning of the nineties of the last century disk transputer systems were delivered to Russia. Their structure is shown in chart 13. Picture 11 shows the transputer board, where the disk system At the nineties of the last century disk transputer systems were delivered to Russia. Photo 13 shows the transputer board, where disk system interface is realized.

Picture 13. Structure scheme of disk transputer system

Photo 11. Transputer board, realizing disk system interface

The main parameters of the disk system were at that time as follows:

- The transputer net productivity when 8 TRAM with T800 12 MFLOPS, 80 MIPS ere installed;

- Interface with the bus HOST-PC (shift change 200-300 bit per second. Interface with the servers of hard and flexible magnet disks);

- A disk capacity was 80 bit

The following software for disk control operations were used:

- TBIOS (Transputer BIOS) the library for disk operation access M212 for the Occam language;

- TDOS software environment for the access to disk operations 212 of the programming system TDS;

- high level file operations ( open, read, write, close) for the languages of parallel programming (3L): C, Pascal, Fortran, provided fast access to the disk files through transputer links.

4. Transputer work stations of super high productivity

The highest level of commercial deliveries at the beginning of the nineties of the last century were transputer working stations of super high productivity. Their scheme is shown in picture 1, and their general view is shown on photo 12.

Picture 14. General scheme of a working station with super high productivity

Photo 12.General view of transputer work station of super- high productivity.

This version of a working station consisted of a user computer, interface transputer boards, massive of transputers with communication system, subsystem of signal processing and disk subsystem. Total productivity of a working station was defined like follows:

Transputer net productivity


320 MIPS

Signal processing productivity


The volume of a disk subsystem

These transputer working stations could be delivered in any combination of specialized transputer subsystems.

As well as the above mentioned super high productive station based on transputers 800 (805), at the same time the super high productive working station based on transputers and processors i860 was being developed and delivered.

Its general view is presented in picture 15, and photo 13 shows general view of a foundation board with transputer and vector processor i860. Total highest productivity of the station was 320MFLOPS.

The following software was delivered as part of a working station.

PCi860-AL standard interface for 100 system with C language compilator fori860;

PCi860-C C language compilator for i860;

PCi860-F ANSI FORTRAN 77 language compilator for i860;

PCi860-M control package for inhomogeneous processor net IMST805 and i860 Inmos ANSI with Toolset IMSD7214 included;

PCi860-D symbolic debugging for i860 on the level of command line

Arithmetic libraries for i860

i860lib-MA mathematical library of vector processing, 260 functions included

i860lib IPLIB library of image processing function according to NEL standard

Russian development of super high productive working station on the base of transputer board in Elbrus construction, containing 32 transputer modules with T800 (T805) transputers and memory volume 1-4 Mbit (photo 14) should be mentioned.

The transputer modules were placed on both board sides, 16 modules on each side. The highest productivity of a board reached 320MIPS. The block, containing 8 boards had the highest productivity 2560MIPS. At the beginning of the nineties, this computational system, with the speed a few billion operations per second and designed as a table block was unique.

Picture 15. General structure of super high productive working station on the base of transputers and vector processes i860

Photo 13. Transputer board with vector processor i860

Photo 14. General view of domestic transputer board (32 transputer modules)

5. Transputer systems on the base of T9000 transputer

In the middle of the nineties, the Inmos company was taken over by Tomson CSF consortium (France). Transputers were produced at the plant in Grenoble, where the technologies were higher in comparison with the former production plant in Bristol (Great Britain).

The next transputer generation was presented by T9000 transputer, the model of which with low (25 MHz) tact frequency were built. On the base of these transputers a few of high productive systems, butTomson CFS company failed to develop the models of T9000 transputer with higher tact frequency and faster information transmission through the communication channels between the transputers. Few models of the system on the transputer T9000 base were built (photo 15), but their industrial production had not been started.

During many years, the transputers served as the foundation for super high productive computers all over the world: Great Britain, Germany, France, the USA, Japan, China, Russia Bulgaria, etc

But recently the transputer market structure has been changed as a result of the competition: the USA tried to suppress the European initiative to liquidate the USA monopoly in the field of supercomputers. Pursuing this goal, at the end of the eighties the USAbegan developing at least three effective transputer-like composites for massive parallel computers TMS32C40 (C60, C80), SHARK Neuron. By their architecture they were close to transputers and fulfilled practically the same functions, but they possessed more potential.

Picture 16. General tructure of T9000 transputer

Photo 14. General view of T9000 transputer system.


The transputers became the beginning of new computers with massive parallelism all over the world, Russia included. The modern cluster super computer differs from the transputer system only by the type of processors, memory volume, and some of the details of the architecture.

At the beginning of the nineties, the unique transputer systems contained hundreds of transputer units. At that time they were the most high-capacity supercomputers by the criteria of the ratio of productivity to cost (or the volume of the equipment). The transputer systems were at that time the most effective software-hardware emulator-accelerators of neuronet algorithms for various problem solutions.

List of references

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