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Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary
cycle of reincarnation
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A term coined by Ivan Sutherland ca. 1970 to refer to a
well-known effect whereby function in a computing system
family is migrated out to special-purpose peripheral
hardware for speed, then the peripheral evolves toward more
computing power as it does its job, then somebody notices that
it is inefficient to support two asymmetrical processors in
the architecture and folds the function back into the main
CPU, at which point the cycle begins again.
Several iterations of this cycle have been observed in
graphics-processor (blitter) design, and at least one or
two in communications and floating-point processors. Also
known as "the Wheel of Life", "the Wheel of Samsara" and other
variations of the basic Hindu/Buddhist theological idea.