This paper presents a Data Flow Functional Computer (DFFC) developed at the
Etablissement Technique Central de l'Armement (ETCA) and dedicated to real-time
image processing. Two types of data-driven processing elements, dedicated
respectively to low and mid-level processings are integrated in a regular 3D
array. The design of the DFFC relies on a close integration of the data-flow
architecture principles and the functional programming concept.
An image processing algorithm, expressed using an FP-like functional syntax is first converted into a Data-flow Graph. The nodes of this graph are real time operators implementable on physical processors of the data-flow machine. This data-flow graph is then directly mapped onto the processor array.
The programming environment includes a complete compilation stream from FP-specification to hardware implementation, along with a global operator database.
Apart from being a research tool for real-time image processing, the DFFC may also be used to perform the automatic synthesis of autonomous vision automata from a high-level functional specification.
An experimental system, including 1024 low-level custom data-flow processorsand 12 T800 transputers was built and can perform up to 50 billion operations per second. Several image processing algorithms were implemented on this system and run in real time at digital video speed.