Floating Point Systems

Floating Point Systems Inc. (FPS) was a Beaverton, Oregon vendor of minisupercomputers. The company was founded in 1970 by former Tektronix engineer Norm Winningstad.

The original goal of the company was to supply floating point coprocessors for minicomputers. In 1976, the AP-120B array processor was produced. In 1981, the follow-on FPS-164 was produced, followed by its big brother, the 264 having the same architecture. This was 5 times faster using ECL instead of TTL chips.

These processors were widely used for scientific applications in reflection seismology, physical chemistry, NSA cryptology and other disciplines requiring large numbers of computations. Attached array processors were usually used in facilities where larger supercomputers were either not needed or not affordable. In 1986, the T-Series hypercube using INMOS transputers and Weitek floating-point processors was introduced.

In 1988, FPS acquired the assets of Celerity Computing of San Diego, California, renaming itself as FPS Computing.

Celerity's product lines were further developed by FPS, the Celerity 6000 minisupercomputer being developed into the FPS Model 500 series. They later became the S-MP and APP product lines of Cray Research when FPS was acquired by that larger company in 1991. The S-MP was a SPARC-based multiprocessor server (based on the Model 500); the APP an i860-based matrix co-processor array. After CRI purchased FPS, it changed the group's direction by making them Cray Research Superservers, Inc., later becoming the Cray Business Systems Division; however the S-MP architecture was not developed further, instead it was replaced by the Cray Superserver 6400, (CS6400) which was derived indirectly from a collaboration between Sun Microsystems and Xerox PARC.

After Silicon Graphics acquired Cray Research in 1996, this business unit along with the CS6400 product line were sold to Sun Microsystems. This was a great strategic mistake by SGI, as Cray were developing the "Starfire" system at the time, this being launched by Sun as the very successful Ultra Enterprise 10000 multiprocessor servers. These systems allowed Sun to become a first tier vendor in the large server market which Silicon Graphics never achieved.

External links

* [http://ei.cs.vt.edu/~history/Parallel.html The History of the Development of Parallel Computing]


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