Project CrayOn: Back to the future for a more General-Purpose GPU?

Proc. 2nd Workshop on Pioneering Processor Paradigms, Austria, 25 February 2018

Philip Machanick

General purpose of use graphics processing units (GPGPU) recapitulates many of the lessons of the early generations of supercomputers. To what extent have we learnt those lessons, rather than repeating the mistakes? To answer that question, I review why the Cray-1 design ushered in a succession of successful supercomputer designs, while more exotic modes of parallelism failed to gain traction. In the light of this review, I propose that new packaging breakthroughs create an opening for revisiting our approach to GPUs and hence GPGPU. If we do not do so now, the GPU endpoint – when no GPU enhancement will be perceptible to human senses – will in any case remove the economic incentive to build ever-faster GPUs and hence the economy of scale incentive for GPGPU. Anticipating this change now makes sense when new 3D packaging options are opening up; I propose one such option inspired by packaging of the Cray-1.