Vector Processor

A vector processor, or array processor, is a central processing unit (CPU) that implements an instruction set containing instructions that operate on one-dimensional arrays of data called vectors. This is in contrast to a scalar processor, whose instructions operate on single data items. Vector processors can greatly improve performance on certain workloads, notably numerical simulation and similar tasks. Vector machines appeared in the early 1970s and dominated supercomputer design through the 1970s into the 90s, notably the various Cray platforms. The rapid rise in the price-to-performance ratio of conventional microprocessor designs led to the vector supercomputer's demise in the later 1990s.

Today, most commodity CPUs implement architectures that feature instructions for a form vector processing on multiple (vectorized) data sets, typically known as SIMD (Single Instruction, Multiple Data). Common examples include VIS, MMX, SSE, AltiVec and AVE. Vector processing techniques are also found in video game console hardware and graphics accelerators. In 2000, IBM, Toshiba and Sony collaborated to create the Cell processor, consisting of one scalar processor and eight vector processors, which found use in the Sony PlayStation 3 among other applications.

Other CPU designs may include some multiple instructions for vector processing on multiple (vectorised) data sets, typically known as MIMD (Multiple Instruction, Multiple Data) and realized with VLIW. Such designs are usually dedicated to a particular application and not commonly marketed for general purpose computing. In the Fujitsu FR-V VLIW/vector processor both technologies are combined.

Read more about Vector Processor:  Description, Real World Example: Vector Instructions Usage With The X86 Architecture, Programming Heterogeneous Computing Architectures

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Alliant Computer Systems - History - 1980s
... and several custom designed support chips to implement a vector processor based upon the popular Motorola 68000 architecture ... These were augmented by the Interactive Processors, IPs, which used Motorola 68008's (and, subsequently, Motorola 68010's and then Motorola 68020's) with 4MB of local RAM, connecting ... made by Bipolar Integrated Technology and a redesigned vector processor with 32 64-bit vector elements, 8 64-bit scalar floating point registers, 8 32-bit integer registers, and 8 ...
... The Fujitsu FR-V (Fujitsu RISC-VLIW) is one of the very few processors ever able to process both a very long instruction word (VLIW) and vector processor instructions at the ... Its design was influenced by the VPP500/5000 models of the Fujitsu VP/2000 vector processor supercomputer line ... to 256 bit) instruction set it additionally uses a 4-way single instruction, multiple data (SIMD) vector processor core ...
VAX 9000 - Description - Vector Processor
... The VAX 9000's CPU was coupled with a vector processor with a maximum theoretical performance of 125 MFLOPS ... The vector processor circuitry was present in all units shipped and disabled via a software switch on units sold 'without' the vector processor ... The vector processor was referred to as the V-box, and it was Digital's first ECL implementation of the VAX Vector Architecture ...
Vector Processor - Programming Heterogeneous Computing Architectures
... Various machines were designed to include both traditional processors and vector processors, such as the Fujitsu AP1000 and AP3000 ... that make best use of characteristics of different processors increases the programmer's burden ... Balancing the application workload across processors can be problematic, especially given that they typically have different performance characteristics ...