UBC Theses and Dissertations
Logic-per-track associative memory Tang, Geok-Seng
An associative, or content-addressable, memory, one in which data may he retrieved "by its value rather than by real address, has always been an attractive idea. Although such a memory has not yet proven practical for files of respectable size, much interesting work has been done on the subject, for example, Minsky (1972), Slotnick (1970) and Parker (1970, 1971). This thesis is concerned with the device proposed by Slotnick and Parker, called 'Logic Per Track Device'. After briefly reviewing the design and capabilities of their device, the thesis proceeds to propose some modifications to the design which not only lead to greatly enhanced performance, but also establish its practical application for files of respectable size. In the device of Slotnick and Parker, there is a fairly sophisticated logic chip attached directly to each non-movable read-write head. This allows all logic heads to search simultaneously for information matching a given key, so that any desired record could be located within one revolution. However, reading and writing will require a second revolution because part of the record will have passed the head before the match is recognized. Moreover, if more than one record matches the search key, the extra bookkeeping will be needed if matching records on different tracks should partially overlap. These problems have been ignored in the retrieval system developed by Parker (1970, 1971). The following four additional features of the device have been proposed: 1. Two logic heads on each track has been introduced. The leading head will continue to have the primary responsibility for simultaneous searching. The additional second head, trailing a fixed distance behind will do the actual reading and writing of records. 2. A delay register whose length is the distance between logic heads on the same track, has been added to the read-write head. The function of the delay bit is to tell the read-write head partner where to start reading (or writing) a record whenever a match is recognized so that retrieving (or writing) a single record can always be performed in the same revolution. 3. Another major design change will give the new device the ability to keep track of all records which may be retrieved within a single revolution by parallel search. To this end, the monitor, which synchronizes the activities of all logic head couples, will be provided with a record counter, and a mark entity will be prefixed to every record on the disk itself. A file identification mechanism has been established for the associative memory. Functions of such a mechanism are (a) to manage file names, and (b) to manipulate data on the storage device. Next step is to explore the use of such a modified device for file-oriented problems. 'Hierarchical search' for records possessing a specified combination of keys can be performed directly on the key part of records without the intermediate step of transmitting records into the main computer memory. In an application requiring chain processing, the chain pointer can he a key of the record because each record in the associative memory is accessed by content rather than by real address. The chain key can be generated from the key if the record it points to by a simple and reversible procedure. Such a chain technique has a number of advantages: (a) any chain is in fact a two-way chain, (b) each record in the chain can be retrieved by following the chain key, or directly by the key of the record if it is known, and (c) the tangle of actual physical addresses in the chain processing can be avoided. The storage organization for more complex data structure such as tree structures presents another unique feature of the modified memory. In a tree structure, indexes to the subordinate records may be kept with each parent record, or each subordiante recoEdsnjaays^tDreaaniaindsx to its parent record. Both data structures take the same amount of storage space. Comparison <3f its performance to the convent tional counterpart shows that significant improvements in access times can be achived.
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