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What would be the complementing metaphor for a system comprised of a host computer running an application and an accelerator system doing some specific type of calculations? What is a good name for the accelerator part?

UPDATE: In our context, we are really talking about an embedded processor supporting the CPU, which can be an Intel CPU or an ARM controller, etc. Think of a GPGPU for example. However, at the current state, this is merely a dev board connected to a linux machine via USB. It should not change the relationship between the two, though.

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It is commonly called an Accelerator (WAN Accelerator, SSL Accelerator etc). – Paul Jan 16 '12 at 23:20
up vote 2 down vote accepted

With that processor board, you have a system processor (also sometimes called host processor) connected to an auxiliary processor that the system processor gives work to and controls. If it were closely coupled to the host processor, over a system or special-purpose bus and sharing the instruction set architecture, it would be a co-processor. A loosely coupled processor attached by a peripheral bus with its own instruction set architecture is more commonly an auxiliary processor.

Terminology changes if the subordinate and computation-only status of your device changes.

If it were not a general purpose development board but a specialized product, and its task were related to storage or communications rather than simply high-speed computational tasks, you would have an intelligent peripheral or smart peripheral with an auxiliary processor on board. If your processor were the determiner of the work to be done, and the attached Linux machine were there purely for the communications with the outside world, then the Linux machine would be a front-end processor or I/O processor and your processor would itself be the main or host processor.

Further reading

  • Martin H. Weik (2000). Computer Science and Communications Dictionary. Springer. ISBN 9780792384250.
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Great answer, thanks. – ysap Jan 17 '12 at 14:37

Host? They would both be peers.

Unless you mean the process is running on the Host machine, then it would just be "Application" or "Service".

When you say "an accelerator system", I think you mean separate system.

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