No assignee for this patent application has been made.
News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention generally relates to data transmissions, and, more specifically, to a system and method for sending arbitrary packet types across a data connector.
"A typical data connector, such as a peripheral component interface (PCI) or PCI express (PCIe), allows different processing units within a computer system to exchange data with one another. For example, a conventional computer system could include a central processing unit (CPU) that exchanges data with a graphics processing unit (GPU) across a PCIe bus.
"When data is transmitted across the data connector, that data must adhere to a specific 'communication protocol' associated with the data connector. A communication protocol usually specifies a set of packet types that can be transmitted across the data connector. Processing units that exchange data using the data connector, such as the CPU and GPU in the example above, must be configured to format data that is to be sent across the data connector based on one of the available packet types.
"A conventional GPU is typically fabricated with hardwired logic that supports the communication protocol currently in use by a given data connector and allows the GPU to generate the various available packet types. That communication protocol is constantly evolving, though, and occasionally certain enhancements are released which introduce a new packet type (or types) into the protocol. When this situation occurs, a GPU that is already on the market lacks the hardwired logic required to generate the new packet type. Consequently, an updated GPU may be put into production that includes redesigned logic that supports the enhanced communication protocol and is capable of generating the new packet type.
"Problems arise, however, due to the long production cycle usually needed to bring a GPU to market. A typical production cycle can last as long as two years, and during that time any number of additional enhancements to the communication protocol may be released, introducing even more new packet types into the protocol. Thus, when an updated GPU is put into production to add support for a given enhancement, additional enhancements may be released mid-production cycle that cannot be supported by the hardwired logic within the GPU. Accordingly, by the time the 'updated' GPU is actually released to the market, that GPU would appear to be outdated. Releasing a GPU that only supports an older communication protocol makes that GPU less marketable and reflects poorly on the manufacturer of the GPU.
"Accordingly, what is needed in the art is a technique that enables GPUs already out on the market to support updated communication protocols."
As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "One embodiment of the present invention sets forth a method for transmitting packets from a first hardware unit to a second hardware unit across a data connector, including receiving a first signal that corresponds to a first packet type and reading a first packet specification from a software register, where the first packet specification defines the first packet type. The method further includes generating a packet according to the first packet type based on the first packet specification, and causing the packet to be transmitted from the first hardware unit to the second hardware unit across the data connector.
"Advantageously, support for new packet types can be added to a processing unit or other type of hardware unit at any stage of production (including post-release) simply by updating software associated with the processing unit. Accordingly, situations where enhancements to the communication protocol make a given processing unit outdated can be entirely avoided. Thus, processing units no longer need to be released to market without having support for the most recent communication protocol.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
"So that the manner in which the above recited features of the present invention can be understood in detail, a more particular description of the invention, briefly summarized above, may be had by reference to embodiments, some of which are illustrated in the appended drawings. It is to be noted, however, that the appended drawings illustrate only typical embodiments of this invention and are therefore not to be considered limiting of its scope, for the invention may admit to other equally effective embodiments.
"FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating a computer system configured to implement one or more aspects of the present invention;
"FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a parallel processing subsystem for the computer system of FIG. 1, according to one embodiment of the present invention;
"FIG. 3 is a block diagram that illustrates processing units coupled together with a data connector, according to one embodiment of the present invention; and
"FIG. 4 is a flowchart of method steps for transmitting an arbitrary message across the data connector of FIG. 3."
For additional information on this patent application, see: HUANG, Wei-Je; Ma,
Keywords for this news article include: Patents, Software.
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