Vsevolod Sergeevich Burtsev
Composed and translator
by Alexander Nitussov
Academician Vsevolod Burtsev, of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), was the leading expert of Russia on high performance computers and computing complexes.
Burtsev Vsevolod Sergeevich
He was born on 11 February 1927. Still being a student of the Moscow Power Engineering Institute (MPEI) Burtsev made the first steps in his scientific work, under academician Sergey Lebedevs guidance at the Institute of Precession Mechanics and Computer Engineering IPM and CE, (Russ. ITMiVT). His diploma project dealt with the first soviet high-speed electronic computer BESM (of AS USSR). During that work he turned into one of its leading designers.
In 1953-1956 Burtsev, as an executive engineer in charge of the project, suggested principle of selection and digitalizing of radar signals. That new technology was implemented in digital systems receiving signals from radar (radio locator) and transmitting them into computer. New type of computers special machines «Diana-1» and «Diana-2» were designed for that purpose and the experimental simultaneous tracking of several -flying- targets by a computer was a complete success. Materials of the project became the subject of Burtsevs thesis for his first scientific degree (candidate of science). Decision of the scientific council also turned to be his success, Burtsev received not intermediate «candidate» but the full doctorate at once. Results of his work basically changed structure of anti-aircraft and anti rocket defence complexes.
In 1956-1961 Vsevolod Burtsev headed work on research and development in scientific foundations and design of computing systems for anti-rocket defence (ARD) stations. Thus he created high-performance complex system of two computers M-40 and M-50, which were designed by the Lebedevs IPM and CE.
Burtsev himself worked out principles of parallel computations on hardware level for M-40, than the quickest, serially produced, soviet computer. All its basic units (arithmetical, control devices, RAM and the external memory control) were provided with autonomous control units and functioned in parallel. Principle of the multiplex channel was also implemented for the first time, what enabled both reception and output of information from ten asynchronous channels with common transmission capacity of 1 million bit/sec, without lowering computation speed.
M-50 was chiefly a modification of M-40 provided with floating point arithmetic. It appeared in serial production in 1959. Sergey Lebedev and Vsewolod Burtsev were awarded Lenin Premium (the highest state premium) for those projects.
In 1961-1958 Burtsev developed high-performance semiconductor based machines for more sophisticated ARD complexes. Those were 5E92b and its modification with floating point arithmetic 5E51. Increased structural reliability and authenticity of output information, based on full hardware control of computation process, became distinctive features of the 5E92b.
It was also the first time when the possibility of implementation of two-processor complexes with common RAM, and multi-machine complexes with common peripheral memory devices was successfully demonstrated in ARD systems. All that introduced new designing possibilities both in ARD and in space objects (satellites etc.) control systems and centres. Multi-machine computing complex ARD, consisting of eight computers 5E92b with automatic back-up was tested in real time mode and real working environment in 1967. Later, serial computers 5E92b were a core machines in the Soviet ARD system, what provided a «balance» with the USA in the cold war and made almost decisive impact on signing, by the both sides, the agreement of arms race limitation in 1972.
In 1969-1972 Burtsev was the chief designer for the first on-board computer of the third generation for mobile anti-aircraft missile installation S-300. It was three processor computer composed on modular principle. Each module (processor, memory, external connections control device) was integrated into hardwired control, what enabled automatic sliding buck-up on module level in case of damage or failure, practically without interrupting main computation process. Computer, whose performance was practically equal to that of BESM-6, filled a volume of no more then 1 cubic meter. Such computers are still in use.
In December 1976 V. Burtsev was elected a corresponding member of AS USSR at the department of mechanics and control processes («Control processes-computer engineering»).
In 1973-1985 Burtsev, as a chief designer, headed development of multiprocessor computation complexes «Elbrus-1» «Elbrus-2». Working on Elbrus-2 he created new high-speed integrated circuits, high-frequency multipoint connectors, multi-crystal and big integrated circuits, micro-cables, precession multilayer circuit boards. It was a notable contribution in technological progress in our country. The work on Elbrus-1 was completed in 1980. Its performance reached 15 millions ops. In 1985 the ten-processor Elbrus-2 with performance of 125 million ops was successfully tested and approved by the state commission. The both computers were then put into commercial production.
Some principle problems of extreme performance universal processors design were solved in «Elbrus» projects. Thus dynamic distribution of super RAM resource in executive devices and number of other solutions implemented in circuitry for the first time, made possible increasing of each processor performance in several times. Further increasing of the complex performance was impossible without solving fundamental problems connected with multi-processor system construction, such as elimination of the modules mutual influence on common performance, what enabled «anonymous» functioning of the modules and their reciprocal synchronization. All those problems were solved by Burtsev and his collaborators.
In 1986-1993 Burtsv headed design of new super-computer architecture based on -then- new not von-Neumann principles, what provided possibility of arranging parallel computation process on hardware level. That architecture implemented most modern achievements of the optical information processing and its structure was highly regular, what enabled performance of 1010 1012 Mflops. Basic specific feature of that architecture automatic dynamic distribution of computation resources among single processes. Solution of the problem was aimed at liberation from necessity to specially distribute resources on programming stage of the parallel processes in multi-machine and multi-processor complexes. Research and design of new computer architecture was conducted in frame of special Academy program, «Program of basic fundamental researches and projects on creation of optical computer of the Russian Academy of Science (RAS) with super high performance».
In June 1992 he was elected a full member of the RAS, at the department of informatics, computer sciences and automation (special subject Computer engineering and components).
The last period of his life Burtsev dedicated to fundamental researches on basically new perspective architectures of high-performance computers. He also implemented new physical principles and software system with the aim of creation a new information processing computer complexes, performance of which should be increased to the maximum of 1012 1014 Mflops.
For his scientific and organizational achievements Vsevolod S. Burtsev was awarded Lenin and State Premiums as well as decorated with Lenin Order, orders of the October Revolution and the Red Banner of Labour and numerous medals. His collection of works «High performance Multiprocessor Computers Theory and Practice of Creation» was prized with special -Sergey A. Lebedev- premium of the AS USSR.
Burtsev authored more then 150 publications translated into several languages, popular both in Russia (USSR) and abroad. Their basic ideas became foundations of design for new computing devices and now they are integrated into educational programs of Russian leading universities. Burtsev himself always managed to arrange some time for teaching. He was a scientific consultant and supervisor of more then 40 post graduates: candidates and doctors of technical sciences. During more then 20 years he constantly taught at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technique, and also headed the department of «Microprocessor systems, electronics and electro-engineering» and the chair of «High-performance computing systems» at the Moscow University of Aircraft Technologies.
Vsevolod Burtsev possessed very impressive personality and unique scientific potential, his merits were indisputably outstanding; he was able to perform much more. Unfortunately his life was interrupted by a serious disease. Burtsev died on the 14 th of June 2005.