A New Definition of Performance - AltiVec Technology
AltiWho? AltiWhat? AltiVec! So what is this AltiVec thing? AltiVec is Motorola's high-performance vector parallel processing expansion to the PowerPC architecture.
The new AltiVec technology expands the capabilities of PowerPC microprocessors by providing leading-edge, general-purpose processing performance while concurrently addressing high-bandwidth data processing and algorithmic-intensive computations. Traditionally, many performance hungry applications have contained a combination of a microprocessor performing the system control function and other off-chip devices, such as a DSP farm or custom Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs), handling specialized computations. AltiVec enables a new class of PowerPC microprocessors that eliminates the need for such off-chip technologies.
What is AltiVec?
AltiVec is a short vector parallel architecture, in contrast to the long vector architectures of supercomputers that were popular in the 1980s. Vector sizes for those machines ranged to hundreds of elements. The long vector approach of supercomputers, while useful for scientific calculations, is not optimal for the communications, multimedia and other performance-driven applications targeted by Motorola with AltiVec technology. Depending on the desired data type (integer, floating point or character), AltiVec vectors are 4, 8 or 16 elements long, which directly correlates to 4-way, 8-way or 16-way parallelism.
Applications of the AltiVec TechnologyThe initial target applications for PowerPC processors utilizing AltiVec technology include, but are not limited to:
A New Definition of PerformanceSoftware optimized for the 128-bit vector processor can achieve huge gains in performance. The use of high-level language extensions allows developers to easily vectorize their applications, realizing average increases between 1.5 and 6 times that of today's traditional scalar applications. While these application speedups are impressive, numerous algorithms have demonstrated performance gains well in excess of 10x.
Want to Learn More?For more information, visit Motorola's AltiVec website at http://www.mot.com/AltiVec, and continue to navigate the industry-wide user's forum at http://www.AltiVec.org.