Kendall Square Research

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Kendall Square Research (KSR) was a supercomputer company headquartered originally in Kendall Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1986, near MIT. It was co-founded by Steven Frank [1] and Henry Burkhardt III, who had previously helped found Data General and Encore Computer and was one of the original team that designed the PDP-8. KSR produced two models of supercomputer, the KSR1 and KSR2.



The KSR systems ran a specially customized version of the OSF/1 operating system, a Unix variant, with programs compiled by a KSR-specific port of the Greenhills C and FORTRAN compilers. The architecture was shared memory implemented as an cache only memory architecture or "COMA". Being all cache, memory dynamically migrated and replicated in a coherent manner based on access pattern of individual processors. The processors were arranged in a hierarchy of rings, and the operating system mediated process migration and device access. Instruction decode was hardwired, and pipelining was used. Each KSR1 processor was a custom 64-bit RISC CPU clocked at 20 MHz and capable of peak output of 20 MIPS and 40 MFLOPS. Up to 1088 of these processors could be arranged in a single system, with a minimum of eight. The KSR2 doubled the clock rate to 40 MHz and supported over 5000 processors. The KSR-1 chipset was fabricated by Sharp Corporation while the KSR-2 chipset was built by Hewlett-Packard.


Besides the traditional scientific applications, KSR, in conjunction with Oracle Corporation, addressed the massively parallel database market for commercial applications. The KSR-1 and -2 supported Micro Focus COBOL and C/C++ programming languages, as well as the Oracle PRDBMS and the MATISSE OODBMS from ADB, Inc. Their own product, the KSR Query Decomposer, complemented the functionality of the Oracle product for SQL uses. The TUXEDO transaction monitor for OLTP was also provided. The KAP program (Kuck & Associate Preprocessor) provided for pre-processing for source code analysis and parallelization. The runtime environment was termed PRESTO, and was a POSIX compliant multithreading manager.

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