UDC 681.32
Hardware of VX/VPP300/VPP700 Series of
Vector-Parallel Supercomputer Systems
VNobuo Uchida
(Manuscript received April 28, 1997)
This paper introduces the hardware of Fujitsu's VX/VPP300/VPP700 series of
vector-parallel supercomputer systems for high-speed scientific calculations. The
series can be configured with up to 512 processing elements ( PEs ) to achieve
a performance of from 2.2 GFLOPS to 1.1 TFLOPS ( the maximum performance
of each PE is 2.2 GFLOPS ). By using advanced CMOS technology, the series has
been greatly improved in terms of cost-performance and physical characteristics
such as power consumption and installation space. The series supports standard
interfaces such as SCSI, ATM, FDDI, and HIPPI, making them very open machines.
1. Introduction
Recent, rapid advancements in computational
sciences have made supercomputers indispensable
not only in higher education and academic research, but also in industry. Also, there is a continuing demand for higher performance, larger
storages, and higher input/output processing
Moreover, the processing capabilities of engineering workstations has recently improved, and
the long economic recession is making it more
important to obtain good returns on equipment
investment. This situation makes the high costeffectiveness, high-processing capability, superior
installation conditions, and easy operation of
supercomputers very attractive features.
Moreover, because supercomputers are in use
by many companies, there is a strong call for an
open architecture that can be linked with engineering workstations and for the use of de facto
standard interfaces.
In response, Fujitsu used the latest technology to develop the high-performance, cost-effective, easy-to-use VX, VPP300, and VPP700 series
of supercomputers. The VX series can be used as
a high-performance calculation server that features high cost-effectiveness, easy usage, and relaxed installation requirements (installation is
possible in an ordinary office). The VPP300 series can be used as a highly cost-effective, highperformance (up to 32.5 GFLOPS) central machine. The VPP700 series can be used as a
high-end machine for large-scale science and technology calculations (up to 1.1 TFLOPS). Also, in
February 1997, Fujitsu released the VX-E,
VPP300E, and VPP700E series, which feature a
single PE performance of 2.4 GFLOPS.
2. Aim of development
2.1 High performance by vectorparallel architecture
In the conventional parallel processing system, up to several tens of high-performance vector processors have been tightly connected through
shared memory (shared-memory-connected parallel system). Alternatively, up to several thousand comparatively lower performance generalpurpose scalar processors have been connected (massively parallel processor [MPP] system). In a shared-memory-connected parallel system, there are restrictions on the operation speed
of each processor and on the hardware technology for connecting large numbers of processors
requiring a large storage throughput. On the
other hand, in an MPP system, the performance
of the scalar processors depends on the cache
FUJITSU Sci. Tech. J.,33,1,pp.6-14(June 1997)
N. Uchida: Hardware of VX/VPP300/VPP700 Series of Vector-Parallel Supercomputer Systems
memory of the main storage. Therefore, the widearea-access data that is frequently found in largescale programs cannot be processed efficiently.
Moreover, it is not easy to construct a conventional
multi-processor, high-speed network because of
the high communication overhead.
To resolve the above problems, the VX, VPP300,
and VPP700 series (Fig. 1) use a vector-parallel
architecture in which several hundred high-performance vector processors are connected to a
newly designed crossbar network. This vectorparallel architecture provides high performance
by combining the following three parallel processing technologies (Fig. 2):
Parallel data processing by vector processing
Each processing element (PE) of the supercomputer performs vector processing so that many
operations can be executed in time-parallel mode.
Each PE can perform vector processing at a peak
speed of 2.2 GFLOPS.
2) Parallel instruction processing using long instruction words (LIWs)
The PE scalar unit uses the LIW-type reduced
instruction set computer (RISC) architecture for
parallel processing of the instruction level. In one
scalar unit, up to three instructions can be executed concurrently. This provides high-speed
scalar processing of 428 million operations per
second (MOPS).
3) Parallel processing using PEs
To improve the system performance, the distributed-storage-type parallel processing system
is used. In this system, PEs with the above characteristics are connected through a crossbar.
A VPP700 with the maximum system configuration achieves a system performance of up to 1.1
2.2 Large-capacity SDRAM main
Fig. 1— VPP300 series.
Parallel data processing
Parallel instruction processing
- High-performance LIW scalar processor
- High-performance
vector processor
- High-performance crossbar network
Parallel processors - Connection of high-performance PEs
Fig. 2— Vector-parallel architecture.
FUJITSU Sci. Tech. J.,33,1,(June 1997)
Supercomputer main storage must have a
high throughput; therefore, static RAM (SRAM)
has been used because of its high-speed access.
However, because the scale of simulations in science and technology calculations and therefore the
amount of main storage required to perform them
are increasing, SRAMs are looking less attractive
because they cannot be highly integrated. Dynamic RAM (DRAM), on the other hand, can be
highly integrated, but it has a lower access speed.
Thus, it is difficult to achieve a high-throughput
large-size storage.
VX, VPP300, and VPP700 use synchronous
DRAM (SDRAM) to solve this problem. SDRAM
has the same integration density as that of DRAM,
and has a higher access speed because it employs
clock synchronization. Using SDRAM, one PE can
have a main storage of two gigabytes.
N. Uchida: Hardware of VX/VPP300/VPP700 Series of Vector-Parallel Supercomputer Systems
2.3 High-speed processing using
parallel input/output processing
In the VX, VPP300, and VPP700, two highspeed input/output buses are mounted between a
PE and a channel. These buses maximize the input/output performance per PE. Moreover, two
or more IOPEs are used for parallel input/output
processing. The operation performance can be
improved scalably by adding new PEs. Because
two or more IOPEs are mounted, the input/output performance is also improved scalably according to the operation performance.
2.4 High cost effectiveness using the
latest complementary metal-oxide
semiconductor (CMOS) technology
The CMOS used in workstations and PCs
have been improved because of important developments in semiconductor process technologies.
For example, the signal propagation delay, which
was a weak point in the conventional technology,
has been reduced; also the integration density has
been increased, so products can be built with fewer
parts and at lower cost.
Because of the above conditions, the VX,
VPP300, and VPP700 series use COMS LSI for
superior cost effectiveness. The devices used have
a gate length of 0.35 µm, an average gate delay of
70 ps, and contain about 8 million transistors.
Installation space
1/ 2
1/ 6
1/ 2
1/ 6
1/ 2
1/ 2
Heat output
Fig. 3— Comparison between VPP700 and VPP500 of
the same per formance.
2.6 Open architecture
The VX, VPP300, and VPP700 series support
the de facto standard SCSI, WIDE SCSI2, FDDI,
HIPPI, and ATM interfaces for connecting openinterface devices.
The vector-parallel architecture function of
the operating system was extended and enhanced
based on UNIX System V Rel.4.
3. Outline of system
3.1 System configuration
Figure 4 shows an example system configuration of the VX/VPP300/VPP700 series. The VPP
series uses the crossbar unit designed for the
VPP700 series. The VX and VPP300 series have
a crossbar unit built into the PE. Table 1 shows
the main characteristics of these series.
2.5 Superior installation conditions
The use of CMOS technology has sharply reduced the power consumption and installation
space. Figure 3 compares the weight, installation
space, power consumption, and heat output of a
VPP700 series and a previous series (VPP500)
of the same performance. Conventional supercomputers have usually been installed in a dedicated computer room because of their installation
requirements. However, the entry model of the
VX series can be installed in an ordinary office
because it takes only 0.6 ™ of space, consumes
only 2.3 kVA, and produces a maximum noise of
only 49 dB.
3.2 Installation of system
The VX consists of one or two PEs, input/output adapters, built-in disk drives, and a service
processor (SVP). These components are contained
in a compact cabinet (690 mm wide × 840 mm deep
× 1,400 mm high). A maximum of four PEs can be
installed by installing a second cabinet.
The VPP300 consists of up to four PEs, input/
output adapters, built-in disk drives, and an SVP.
These components are contained in cabinets (820
mm wide × 850 mm deep × 1,800 mm high). The
maximum configuration of four PEs consists of
four cabinets.
FUJITSU Sci. Tech. J.,33,1,(June 1997)
N. Uchida: Hardware of VX/VPP300/VPP700 Series of Vector-Parallel Supercomputer Systems
Crossbar network
Disk drives
1/2-inch tape unit
Disk drives
(2 G or 4 Gbytes per DE)
Disk array units
(8 G to 32 Gbytes per unit)
Fig. 4— Example of VX/VPP300/VPP700 system configuration.
Table 1. Characteristics of VX, VPP300, and VPP700 series
VX series
Number of PEs
Peak performance
Capacity of
main storage
Throughput of main storage
Capacity of built-in disks
Number of
VPP700 series
1 to 4
4 to 16
16 to 512
2.2 G to 8.8 GFLOPS
8.8 G to 35.2 GFLOPS
35.2 G to 1,126 GFLOPS
512 M to 8 Gbytes
(512 M or 2 Gbytes per PE)
2 G to 32 Gbytes
(512 M or 2 Gbytes per PE)
8 G to 1,024 Gbytes
(512 M or 2 Gbytes per PE)
18.2 G to 72.8 Gbytes per second 72.8 G to 291.2 Gbytes per second 291.2 G to 9,318.4 Gbytes per second
4 G to 60 Gbytes
4 G to 188 Gbytes
1 to 8
up to 2
1 to 32
up to 8
570 megabytes per second × 2/PE
570 megabytes per second × 2/PE
Performance of crossbar
VPP300 series
The VPP700 has three types of cabinets: (1)
the same cabinet as for the VPP300, (2) a cabinet
for up to eight PEs, and (3) a crossbar unit cabinet. (Cabinet (2) has the same dimensions as the
VPP300 cabinets.) The VPP700 can have up to
512 PEs.
FUJITSU Sci. Tech. J.,33,1,(June 1997)
4 G to 1,916 Gbytes
1 to 320
up to 80
570 megabytes per second × 2/PE
3.3 Configuration elements
The mainframe of the VX, VPP300, and
VPP700 series consists of the following components:
1) Processing elements (PEs)
Figure 5 shows the hardware configuration of
a PE. Table 2 shows the main characteristics of a
PE. A PE consists of the following units:
N. Uchida: Hardware of VX/VPP300/VPP700 Series of Vector-Parallel Supercomputer Systems
Vector unit
Mask register
Crossbar switch
communication unit
Main storage
Scalar unit
General-purpose register Scalar operation unit
and floating-point register
Note1) In the VPP700, the crossbar switch feature of PEs is not used.
Fig. 5— Hardware configuration of a PE.
Table 2. Main characteristics of a PE
Peak performance per PE
Number of vector pipelines
Vector register
128 Kbytes
Registers General-purpose register
32 (32 bits)
Floating-point register
32 (64 bits)
Network throughput
Main storage Storage capacity
Storage elements
64 Kbytes
570 megabytes per
second × 2
512 M or 2 Gbytes
Throughput of main storage 18.2 gigabytes per second
i) Scalar unit (SU)
The SU executes scalar instructions and
handles interrupts.
ii) Vector unit (VU)
The VU executes vector instructions at high
speed. The VU has several instruction execution pipelines and a large-capacity vector register.
iii) Main storage unit (MSU)
The MSU is used to store programs and
data. The MSU processes the large amount
of storage accesses requested by the VU.
iv) Data transfer unit (DTU)
The DTU processes data communications
between PEs through the crossbar network
and synchronizes the data transfer.
2) Input/output processing element (IOPE)
The IOPE consists of controllers and adapters for
connecting units i) to iv) above, the input/output-controlling channels, and various input/output devices.
3) Crossbar unit (XB)
The crossbar unit transfers data between PEs
using the DTU.
4) Service processor (SVP)
The SVP is a computer system independent
of the mainframe.
The SVP controls the power on/off sequence
and diagnoses and maintains the system.
FUJITSU Sci. Tech. J.,33,1,(June 1997)
N. Uchida: Hardware of VX/VPP300/VPP700 Series of Vector-Parallel Supercomputer Systems
4. Outline of hardware
4.1 Scalar unit (SU)
The VX, VPP300, and VPP700 series use 1chip processors having the long instruction word
(LIW) architecture.
4.1.1 LIW architecture
The LIW is an instruction-level parallel processing system. One LIW instruction contains two
or more fields for the operations to be executed.
Operations are assigned to instruction words by
the compiler. Because instructions are executed
in series without modification, the hardware
amount can be reduced and the processing speed
increased. Figure 6 outlines the LIW operation.
4.1.2 Speed increasing techniques
The main characteristics of the SU are as follows:
1) One to three scalar operations or one vector
operation can be assigned to a 64-bit instruction
2) Only a relative address of a PC can be assigned as a branch destination address for a conditional branch operation. This increases the
speed of branch destination address calculation
and branch destination instruction prefetch.
3) The asynchronous execution feature is supported to issue a subsequent instruction without
waiting for completion of the preceding asynchronous operation (the preceding asynchronous operation requires at least two cycles). Therefore,
the execution sequence of asynchronous operations can be changed provided the data dependence remains unchanged.
4) Instructions for trace scheduling are supported. Trace scheduling is a compiler technique
that improves the performance by moving instructions across a no-branch instruction string called
a “basic block.”
4.2.1 Vector processing method
The VU receives a vector instruction from the
SU and processes the vector instruction. Vector
data is processed by the pipeline operation unit.
There are seven instruction execution pipelines:
the addition/logic-operation pipeline, multiplication pipeline, division pipeline, load pipeline, store
pipeline, and two mask pipelines. Using these
pipelines, two or more vector instructions are executed in parallel. The vector register has a capacity of 128 Kbytes. The mask register has a
capacity of 2 Kbytes.
A series of vector processing is executed as
follows. First, data in main storage is loaded into
the vector register through the load pipeline. The
data is then processed using the processing pipeline. The processing results are stored in main
storage via the vector register and store pipeline.
4.2.2 RAS function
The vector register has the same ECC feature as the main storage. The ECC feature completely corrects 1-bit errors and completely detects
2-bit errors. It also corrects 1-bit errors in the
main storage, load pipeline, store pipeline, and
vector register of the VX, VPP300, and VPP700.
Because the ECC feature corrects the hardware
errors that caused machine checks in the conventional system, it greatly improves the reliability.
4.3 Main storage unit (MSU)
The storage elements of the MSU are SDRAMs
with an access time of 60 ns (4 Mbits or 16 Mbits
per chip). The SDRAMs are mounted on both sides
of each RAM module board. One PE has 64 RAM
4.2 Vector unit (VU)
The VU supports the vector processing
method, which is a typical single instruction multiple data (SIMD) method. (When the SIMD
method is used, one instruction executes two or
more operations.)
FUJITSU Sci. Tech. J.,33,1,(June 1997)
IF : Instruction fetch, DEC : Decode, EXEC : Execution, WB : Write back
Fig. 6— LIW operation.
N. Uchida: Hardware of VX/VPP300/VPP700 Series of Vector-Parallel Supercomputer Systems
modules. These RAM modules and the MCM containing the CMOS LSI are mounted on a highdensity motherboard, which improves the data
transfer between the LSI and SDRAMs. Figure 7
shows a PE motherboard with memory modules
4.3.1 Capacity of main storage
The above mentioned method of mounting the
high-density storage elements increases the storage capacity to up to 2 Gbytes per PE. By adding
new PEs, the main storage capacity can be increased scalably. In the VPP700, a storage capacity of up to 1 Tbytes per system is supported.
4.3.2 Techniques for high-speed
The operation of the above SDRAM is synchronized with the system clock pulses. Therefore, the number of elements can be reduced to
transfer accessed data at high speed. The total
main storage is controlled by dividing it into 512
units that can be accessed independently. This
provides a high throughput for handling large
numbers of access requests from the VU.
4.3.3 RAS functions
The MSU has the following RAS functions for
reliability improvement:
1) ECC feature
The MSU has an ECC feature for complete
correction of 1-bit errors and complete detection
of 2-bit errors. Because the vector register also
has an ECC feature (explained above), the code
required for data checking is stored, together with
data, in both the MSU and vector register.
2) Patrol feature
The patrol feature is used for SDRAM recovery from an intermittent 1-bit error. If a 1-bit error is detected during data reading from main storage, the patrol feature corrects and rewrites the
4.4 Data transfer unit (DTU)
A DTU is installed in each PE. The DTUs
execute inter-PE communication through the XB
independently of operation to provide a high parallel-processing efficiency. Each DTU consists of
a data processing unit and an inter-PE synchronization processing unit. The main DTU characteristics are described below.
4.4.1 Data transfer
1) Data sending can be executed in parallel with
data reception. The data transfer rate is 570
megabytes per second.
2) Storage access operations during data transfer can be classified into four patterns: continuous pattern, equal-interval pattern, partial-array
pattern, and indirect pattern. The inter-PE transfer efficiency can be improved by selecting the
appropriate access pattern.
3) The DTU has an address translation feature
for translating a transfer-data memory address
and a transfer-destination PE address. This provides virtual PE numbers and virtual memory
4.4.2 Inter-PE synchronization
Fig. 7— PE motherboard.
Each DTU has an inter-PE synchronization
feature to synchronize two or more PEs with each
other (Fig. 8). This feature broadcasts the program
progress status information (about each PE) to all
PEs, and notifies the system that the PEs are synchronized after it receives confirmation that the
PEs have received the broadcast information.
Each PE contains a mask register that indicates which PE group is to be synchronized. UsFUJITSU Sci. Tech. J.,33,1,(June 1997)
N. Uchida: Hardware of VX/VPP300/VPP700 Series of Vector-Parallel Supercomputer Systems
ing the mask register, a program can be executed
in a group of arbitrary PEs. This enables two or
more parallel programs to be executed efficiently.
4.5 Crossbar unit (XB)
The XB is connected to the DTU of each PE
to control data communication between PEs. In
the VPP700, the XB is mounted in a separate cabinet from the PE cabinet. In the VX and VPP300,
the XB is integrated into each PE.
In the VX, VPP300, and VPP700, the XB enables communication between any two PEs at a
speed of 570 megabytes per second. In the
VPP700, the throughput of the maximum network
of 512 PEs is 291 gigabytes per second. The main
characteristics of the XB are described below.
1) Unless a remote PE is in a communication,
contention rarely occurs because a crossbar switch
is used for communications (Fig. 9).
2) The distance between PEs is always the same.
Therefore, even if processors are arbitrarily selected and grouped, the characteristics of the network do not change. This enables two or more
parallel programs to be operated effectively.
4.6 Input/output channels, controllers,
and adapters
Two types of channels (direct VME channel
and SBUS channel) can be connected to the IOPE.
Various types of controllers and adapters having
the standard interface can be connected to the bus
of each channel (Fig. 10).
Status information
Synchronization detection
Fig. 8— PE synchronizing feature.
Crossbar network
Sending side
V : Switch-on state (The two intersecting lines are connected with each other.)
å : Switch-off state (The two intersecting lines are not connected with each other.)
Fig. 9— Crossbar network.
4.6.1 VME channel
The VME channel controls the connection
between a PE and a channel. Five types of controllers for input/output control must be connected
to the VME channel. The main VME channel characteristics are described below.
1) Support of a 64-bit block transfer function
equivalent to the function of VME64
2) Standard support of the interrupt handler
and bus arbitration function
3) Standard support of the VME bus time monitoring feature and bus parity check feature
FUJITSU Sci. Tech. J.,33,1,(June 1997)
VME channel
SBUS channel
High-speed SCSI controller : 2 ports
HIPPI adapter : 1 port
SCSI controller : 2 ports
ATM adapter : 1 port
Multiport asynchronous communication
controller : 4 ports
LAN controller : 1 port
FDDI controller : 1 port
Fig. 10— Channels, controllers, and adapters.
N. Uchida: Hardware of VX/VPP300/VPP700 Series of Vector-Parallel Supercomputer Systems
4.6.2 SBUS channel
Two types of adapters for input/output control must be connected to the SBUS channel. The
main SBUS characteristics are described below.
1) Support of the 64-bit extended transfer function
2) Support of the parity check function
3) Support of the DMA transfer function (burst
transfer of up to 64 bytes)
tem is monitored. For quick recovery when an
error is detected, the error information is logged
and passed to the maintenance center through a
communication line.
4) Automatic operation function
The automatic operation function is supported
for initial program loading of the operating system according to a previously set command and
for turning the system power off using a command
from the operating system.
4.7 Service processor (SVP)
The SVP performs various operation functions
through interfaces with the mainframe system
hardware and communication lines. The main
SVP characteristics are described below.
1) Power control
The SVP turns the power of the system on
and off. In the VPP700, hot-system maintenance
can be performed in cabinet units by turning off
their power.
2) Configuration control
If PEs fail, the system configuration can be
changed without stopping the system by disconnecting the faulty PEs with a command from the
operating system.
3) Monitoring of mainframe system
The operation status of the mainframe sys-
5. Conclusion
This paper explained the aim of VX, VPP300,
and VPP700 development, explained the system
configuration, and outlined the hardware functions.
The high performance, superior cost-effectiveness, and open architecture of these supercomputers were achieved using a vector-parallel
architecture, CMOS technology, and standard interfaces.
Supercomputers will be used in more and
more fields, and the demand for higher processing speeds will continue. We will therefore strive
to increase operation speeds, enhance input/output performance, and improve cost effectiveness.
Nobuo Uchida received the B.E. degree in Electrical Engineering from
Waseda University, Tokyo in 1982. He
joined Fujitsu Ltd. in 1982, where he is
currently engaged in development of
supercomputer hardware.
E-mail :
FUJITSU Sci. Tech. J.,33,1,(June 1997)
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