The Spirit Workstation


SPIRIT - 2484

Keywords workstations, multiprocessor operating systems, object-oriented environments


Start Date: 05-DEC-88 / Duration: 48 months

[ contact / participants ]


Objectives and Approach

The SPIRIT workstation project aims to design and build a high-performance technical workstation to support computationally demanding activities in computer-aided engineering, image processing, graphical interaction, knowledge-based systems, modelling and simulation, and the development of advanced applications software. The industrial partners intend to market a commercial product based on the prototypes developed within the project, and expect to establish a position of dominance in the high-performance end of the European technical workstation market by the mid-1990s.

The workstation will use a small-scale multi-processor design, based around a central very-high-speed memory system and using data rates capable of transmitting real-time video or providing real-time 3-D graphic interaction. General-purpose processors (chosen early in the project from the leading industry-standard processors) will be used, as well as a high-performance AI processor. The software base will include an industry-standard Unix system, augmented with object-oriented programming environments and AI languages, particularly Prolog, all capable of integration with networking facilities. The system software will be implemented with state-of-the-art software technology which includes an operating system kernel suitable for multiprocessor and distributed working.

To achieve the wide range of capabilities envisaged without causing unnecessary costs for applications with different technical requirements, the hardware architecture chosen is modular, with high performance in three particular areas: 2-D and 3-D graphics, AI languages, and image processing, each achieved with special-purpose hardware subsystems that could be omitted from any particular machine. On the other hand, sharing development and software costs means that the workstation as a whole will be cheaper to develop than many specialised machines directed at narrower market segments.

The project is founded on the cooperation of industrial partners across national boundaries, bringing together four groups in four different countries, each contributing excellence in different areas of workstation design, image processing, system software, graphics hardware, and AI language hardware.

A fundamental outcome of the SPIRIT workstation project will be the ability of European industry to achieve at least parity with non-European competition at the high-performance end of the workstation market. This will not only provide a good position for progressing to more advanced products in the later 1990s, but will also provide a base for supporting the migration of high-end technology to lower-cost machines throughout the decade.

Exploitation

Specific areas of industrialisation include:

This project now incorporates SPIRIT-2 (previously project 5397).


CONTACT POINT

Mr J. Kern
KONTRON ELEKTRONIK GMBH
Breslauerstr. 2
D - 8057 ECHING
tel: + 49/ 89-31901490
fax: + 49/ 89-31901311
telex: 522122 D

Participants

KONTRON ELEKTRONIK GMBH - D - C
ACE BV - NL - P
QUEEN MARY & WESTFIELD COLLEGE - UK - P
UNIVERSITY OF SUSSEX - UK - P
UNIVERSITÄT TÜBINGEN - D - P
CAPTION - F - P
GIPSI SA - F - A
TELMAT INFORMATIQUE SA - F - A
ECOLE POLYTECHNIQUE FEDERALE
DE LAUSANNE - CH - A


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SPIRIT - 2484, December 1993


please address enquiries to the ESPRIT Information Desk

html version of synopsis by Nick Cook