Sunfish Studio: Modal Interval Solutions to Boost HPC

Nathan T. Hayes Chief Manager, President & CTO
HPC is facing new challenges, in part due to the nearing “limit” of Moore’s Law. Historically, the CPU was a single processor, and software was designed to run in a sequential manner. As new CPUs emerged with faster clock speeds, sequential programs ran faster, providing “free” benefits to developers. However, as the miniaturization trend continues, processor speeds have maxed out, leaving the future of performance to chips with multiple cores. To leverage the power of this multicore era, software developers need to make a transition from sequential programming to parallel programming. The diminishing returns predicted by Amdahl’s Law are big obstacles for many HPC applications that wish to tap the full potential of modern multicore hardware. For example, if a software program is 90 percent parallel, it can only achieve a ten times speedup, even if an unlimited number of processing cores are available. Achieving speedups of ten thousand times or more requires the software to be at least 99.99 percent parallel.

“Developing highly parallel HPC software using existing technologies can be costly, time consuming and technically challenging—a crisis in the making for the industry, ” says Nathan T. Hayes, Chief Manager, President and CTO. Sunfish has patented and developed an alternative method based on modal interval technology. “Modal interval software is naturally parallel. It represents a path forward into the multicore era for software developers through the modal interval arithmetic, which fuels parallel computing.” Issues of precision and accuracy can also be rectified by modal interval arithmetic, adds Hayes.

Sunfish has a vision of introducing the benefits of modal interval technology to many vertical markets including finance, medical imaging, aerospace, defense, computer animation, and other relevant industries. The company has a robust portfolio of patents in the U.S. and foreign countries, including the first and only known patents for a modal interval processor as well as for circuits for modal interval polynomial evaluation.
Software patents owned by the company generally address the first modal interval software product, called Meridian, a rendering program developed by Sunfish for computer animation in the motion picture industry. In laboratory experiments, Meridian demonstrates a nearly perfect forty-eight times speedup on a computer with forty-eight processing cores.

The initial development for Meridian was based on a model of computer graphics called local illumination. However, as the computing power available to the HPC industry has grown, the animation industry has transitioned into computer graphics products based on a model of global illumination, which is a significantly more physically exact and computationally demanding solution. This makes the visual impacts of global illumination one of the biggest areas of the HPC business. Sunfish is now adapting Meridian in light of the global illumination model.

With the advent of the multicore era our modal interval technology is more relevant than ever before

Sunfish also has a portfolio of hardware patents relevant to modal interval semiconductor products. The company is actively pursuing candidates in the semiconductor industry that wish to license this patented technology. Through incorporation with semiconductor firms, the company is planning to fuel research and development into Meridian and other modal interval applications. “We can help various vertical markets adopt modal interval products, and we believe Sunfish will become more relevant as the miniaturization in the semiconductor industry continues and the number of processing cores increases,” concludes Hayes.

Sunfish Studio, LLC

Minneapolis, MN

Nathan T. Hayes Chief Manager, President & CTO

Providing full theoretical capacity of computers with hundreds of processing cores.