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Comment Re:Independent decision making modules (Score 3, Interesting) 115

I love it.

Note that there's more truth in this fantasy than one might think, at least potentially. IXM nodes don't have the ability to fry each other, but they do supply each other with power, and that power switching is under software control.

So in many configurations, IXM nodes absolutely and literally do have the power to reach a consensus about a misbehaving neighbor and shut it down.

Comment Re:CPU, RAM, storage and ports in every 2 sq in? (Score 1) 115

David Ackley brags, "We have a CPU, RAM, data storage and serial ports for connectivity on every two square inches."

Well, I want to say "No brag just fact."

Except it's not quite fact: What I actually said was "under two inches squared" -- which is closer to four square inches.

But hey, I'm glad I didn't say "under 50mm squared".

Also, the specs got a little muddled. The raw hardware on the current board has 58KB RAM, 512KB flash for program store, and 16KB EEPROM for data.

Comment Re:Transputers, anyone? (Score 5, Informative) 115

I'm part of the project that produced this board.

I am definitely, yes, old enough to remember the Transputer. And I hacked artificial life models on the MasPar in the early 90's, which had an architecture in some ways similar to the Connection Machine.

Although the IXM is indeed 'embarrassingly suitable' for assembly into planar grids, it certainly isn't restricted to that. With right angle headers, for example, it's easy to make shapes likes rings and cubes and so forth.

When the global computational geometry of a machine is fixed at design time, before the ultimate task is known, routing can easily become a major problem. And general routing is hard. Maybe too hard.

But part of exploring modular systems in the 'physical computation' space is trying to figure out ways to make the geometry of the particular computer you build better fit the behavior you're implementing, which can help ease the general purpose routing problem.

And if one really gets into a corner, well, ribbon cable is cheap.

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