[Beowulf] Vector coprocessors AND CILK
billharman at comcast.net
Wed Mar 22 14:05:26 PST 2006
Should the question not be: how much are you willing to pay. If you only
get a 2X speed up in your run time for $10K, then you will buy more nodes.
If you get a 10X, you may call it a wash and could go either way. If you
see a 1000X then you will pay a great deal more than $10K. I have seen a
bioinformatics application where the site installed a reconfigurable FPGA
box and got an approx. 1400X improvement on a Smith-Waterman application, vs
their Linux Cluster. Economy of scale applies to the computer consumer mass
market, but rarely does it apply in the more demanding HPC market, in
general terms, for these type of products.
From: beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org [mailto:beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org] On
Behalf Of Vincent Diepeveen
Sent: Wednesday, March 22, 2006 12:16 PM
To: daniel.pfenniger at obs.unige.ch; Jim Lux
Cc: beowulf at beowulf.org
Subject: Re: [Beowulf] Vector coprocessors AND CILK
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jim Lux" <James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov>
To: "Vincent Diepeveen" <diep at xs4all.nl>; <daniel.pfenniger at obs.unige.ch>
Cc: <beowulf at beowulf.org>
Sent: Wednesday, March 22, 2006 6:00 AM
Subject: Re: [Beowulf] Vector coprocessors AND CILK
> At 07:18 PM 3/21/2006, Vincent Diepeveen wrote:
>>----- Original Message ----- From: "Daniel Pfenniger"
>><daniel.pfenniger at obs.unige.ch>
>>To: "Jim Lux" <James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov>
>>Cc: <beowulf at beowulf.org>
>>Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2006 6:32 PM
>>Subject: Re: [Beowulf] Vector coprocessors
>>If you produce such cards in low quantity you lose roughly 100 dollar to
>>the pci card to
>>royalties basically then add chip production price. 2 big chips, well i do
>>not know what price
>>they are. Sound expensive to me. I talked about 1 big chip for some other
>>That chip had a price, when mass produced, of 50 dollar a chip.
> If it's a full custom chip, figure a "first chip" cost of $2M. (layout, a
> couple spins, etc., but assuming you know basically what the chip is
> supposed to do and how to do it)
Most projects are indeed having a total cost of around $1M for such chips,
including programming and design and package design for
> I work with a fair number of very low volume but fairly complex chips
> (intended for space applications, but not in Class S quality grade) and
> they all seem to run about $5K to $10K each, which must be a sort of basic
That must be something not sold in a shop then, but something intended to
cream off the university world. Those universities waste money by the
so for them $10k is affordable handsdown.
However for products and cards that you want to sell to ordinary people who
simply want a bit better card, a price of $10k is too much.
> price for them to build small runs where there's not a huge NRE. Things
> like MOSIS (http://www.mosis.org/) (or Atmel's equivalent, the name of
> which I forget) can be less expensive, but probably not for something of
> this scale. $5K probably covers the cost of running the wafer, dicing,
> testing, and putting it in a package, in quantities of <100.
> So, to get the $50/chip cost, you need an order of 40,000-50,000 pieces.
No no. 1000-5000.
For 20000+ you can get the entire product including packaging down to way
This card has however 2 chips, not 1. That's a huge difference, additionally
it clocks perhaps
"only" at 250Mhz, but it might be more complex technology than the chip we
wanted to produce.
We just wanted a single giant chip, also at a comparable, though bit higher
Mhz range. Mhz range is however
less important than product price.
Of course for this product if it would be a success, there would be printed
more of them, which probably
reduced the price of the manufacturers offering.
Succesful products, such as chesscomputers, when they do well and are
succesful, you sell around 100000 of them.
That's only for the *succesful* products.
Usually such numbers are only for low priced items, like 99.95 euro
For small amount of products it was not possible to get production price
under $150 however (excluding packaging and
delivery, just card+chip), which meant simply the entire product was not
possible to produce as the chip wouldn't carry any RAM which meant a PC
would outperform it and in general a product sells for 4x more. So that
would mean a bruto price of 600 dollar.
Or a netto price for the customer (add roughly 20% VAT for europe at
products) == 600 euro.
Now of course dollar will go down bigtime, which means effectively the sales
price could perhaps become 499 euro,
which is a very competative price.
Yet you'll have to have RAM on the card then to compete.
It's easy to sell a lot of products if a product outperforms all software
that is out there. Asking 1000-1500 euro a product is possible in that case,
if it doesn't, then a price of 500-1000.
So for example if i put my chessprogram in hardware, that's nearly
impossible, as it's too big (what i write in a few hundreds of lines of C
code in hardware goes default even very well optimized to like 50000
transistors, and the code is 2.2MB in total)
and software is more efficient than hardware, because in software you can
use all kind of caches which in hardware are either
too slow to access, or too expensive to make.
Another alternative is a real chesscomputer from wood with real pieces and
inside it a chip, that's of course interesting.
Alternative is a pci card with a single chip. That's cheaper. But it's 150
euro, 150 dollar without salestax.
The problem is, that software at a k8 just completely outperforms such a
>>So bare production price of this card i estimate at around 250 dollar. You
>>don't want to lose bigtime
>>on such a card of course.
>>That means an importer price of 500 and a consumer price is a minimum of
> When I was working for a developer of retail products, we'd figure retail
> selling price is 10x material cost. For products with high integration
> (i.e. an ASIC) you'd probably go down to 5x.
>>Now you skip the importer of course with such types of cards.
>>According to my economy book then a company can then follow 2 approaches.
>>You can try to
>>flood the market and sell 50 million of them, which means that the card
>>will be priced 1000 dollar.
> Don't need to sell that many.. a hundred thousand would probably do <grin>
A good chesscomputer gets 100k handsdown.
True, in past they sold even more, and it's dissappearing slowly, as no one
wants to invest in such
Please note that there never was any chipproducer involved. Usually they put
single chips in the
chesscomputers of like 30Mhz and a SH7000 chip or so.
That's real real cheap. That's why they do not sell anymore of course. PC
software and hardware has won
from the own designs.
>>If you're serious and you want to buy 200 of their cards, then you're a
>>Propose them a secret deal in this sense that you don't publicly reveal
>>the price paid,
>>and you sign for it that first 3 years you won't resell their cards nor
>>lend them nor hire them
>>to other persons. Under that condition you offer $200k for 200 cards.
> But they're not going to even be able to cover a fraction of the
> development cost for that. But, perhaps, if they are thinking about
> "buying market share" with OPM (other people's money). It's been done,
> more than once.
If you want to earn back your development costs with 1 client,
then you better stop producing such a product.
Only money wasting governments want to pay that much.
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