Hardware and software aspects of parallel computing
Part 1 (Chapters 2,3 and 4) is concerned with the development of hardware for multiprocessor systems. Some of the concepts used in digital hardware design are introduced in Chapter 2. These include the fundamentals of digital electronics such as logic gates and flip-flops as well as the more complicated topics of rom and programmable logic. It is often desirable to change the network topology of a multiprocessor machine to suit a particular application. The third chapter describes a circuit switching scheme that allows the user to alter the network topology prior to computation. To achieve this, crossbar switches are connected to the nodes, and the host processor (a PC) programs the crossbar switches to make the desired connections between the nodes. The hardware and software required for this system is described in detail. Whilst this design allows the topology of a multiprocessor system to be altered prior to computation, the topology is still fixed during program run-time. Chapter 4 presents a system that allows the topology to be altered during run-time. The nodes send connection requests to a control processor which programs a crossbar switch connected to the nodes. This system allows every node in a parallel computer to communicate directly with every other node. The hardware interface between the nodes and the control processor is discussed in detail, and the software on the control processor is also described. Part 2 (Chapters 5 and 6) of this thesis is concerned with the parallelisation of a large molecular mechanics program. Chapter 5 describes the fundamentals of molecular mechanics such as the steric energy equation and its components, force field parameterisation and energy minimisation. The implementation of a novel programming (COMFORT) and hardware (the BB08) environment into a parallel molecular mechanics (MM) program is presented in Chapter 6. The structure of the sequential version of the MM program is detailed, before discussing the implementation of the parallel version using COMFORT and the BB08.