By Noah | March 24, 2012
IBM and CDC developed some of the most innovative computer architectures during the 1960’s. The advanced 360 architectures such as the IBM 360/91 are well known for their pioneering implementations of instruction-level parallelism and register renaming. Before that, Project Stretch was famous for contributing many innovations to computer architecture. Less well known was the Advanced Computing System (ACS), a no holds barred effort started in 1961 to build the fastest possible computer. Leading computer designers including Gene Amdahl, as well as my (later to be) friends from IBM: John Cocke, Fran Allen, and Harwood Kolsky came together to build this machine, which was eventually abandoned in 1969. Amdahl went on to found Amdahl Corporation, and John and Fran later won Turing awards, John’s for the invention of RISC architecture, and Fran’s for her pioneering work on compilers.
There’s a nice Web page up with a brief history of the ACS, and a video to a Computer History Museum video of a Feb. 2010 ACS reunion meeting. ACS pioneered many important features including instruction pre-fetch and dynamic out-of-order execution. The Web page and video are worth checking out if you’re interested in the history of computer architecture.
(Thanks to Lynn Wheeler for the link to the ACS page.)