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3.5.5 Distributed Memory MIMD Systems

An early and very influential distributed memory parallel processor was the ``Cosmic Cube'', a research project carried out by members of the Physics and Computer Science departments at Caltech [30]. This was one of the first systems to treat the interconnection network as a medium for exchanging messages, as opposed to an extended bus that simply fetched single words.

Each node in the Cosmic Cube was a single-board computer with an Intel 8086 processor chip, 8087 floating point coprocessor, and 128KB memory. 64 boards were interconnected as a 6-dimensional hypercube. Communication over the interconnection network was fairly slow, at 2Mbps per link, and used a store and forward protocol. Intel's commercial version of the Cosmic Cube was the iPSC-1, which used 80286 processor chips, 512KB memory per node, and 10Mbps communication chips, and came in configurations from 16 to 128 processors (from 4D up to 7D hypercubes). Other commercial hypercubes of this era included the NCUBE-1 and FPS T-series.