Information Technology News.


Fujitsu chose 64-bit ARM CPUs for its new exascale supercomputer

Share on Twitter.

Sponsered ad: Get a Linux Enterprise server with 92 Gigs of RAM, 16 CPUs and 8 TB of storage at our liquidation sale. Only one left in stock.

Sponsered ad: Order the best SMTP service for your business. Guaranteed or your money back.

August 23, 2016

Earlier this morning, Fujitsu said it stopped its search and decided on 64-bit ARM CPU cores for its shining new exascale supercomputer for two reasons-- the Linux OS and the ability to customize its own processors to its exacting requirements.

To be sure, it was a bit of a surprise when Fujitsu picked ARMv8-A over SPARC-64s and x86 for its Post-K super-comp, which will be used by Japanese scientists to carry out climate-change modeling and other simulations.

Due to go live sometime in 2020, the roughly 1,000 peta-FLOPS Post-K will supersede the Sparc-64 VIIIfx K Computer, which today is the 5th fastest known supercomputer on the planet.

Toshio Yoshida, director of Fujitsu's processor development division said yesterday that it chose ARM over SPARC due to ARM's larger and healthier software ecosystem.

To be sure, supercomputer applications typically run in Unix and Linux-flavored environments. Fujitsu figured that ARM Linux has more support and features, such as KVM-based virtualized for running guest machines.

Fujitsu took the view that supercomputer software support for SPARC just wasn't going to hold up in the long run, and wanted a solid platform that has thousands of developers and familiar tools.

"ARM has the best software ecosystem for us, bar none" said Yoshida. Now, KVM isn't a deal-breaker for supercomputing, but it's nice to have not just one fundamental requirement.

So what else encouraged Fujitsu to adopt ARMv8-A? We also understand that RIKEN, the research institution that ordered the K Computer successor, urged Fujitsu to consider an alternative to SPARC.

This pressure helped the IT contractor make up its mind about ARM-- SPARC's no longer any good, there's plenty of software and support for ARM, and nice kernel features too, so why not just go with ARM?

But why ARM? Why not just use x86 chips from Intel, which has a huge ecosystem and is the dominant compute architecture in data centers? Fujitsu wanted to customize its processors to suit its exascale needs, said Yoshida.

With ARM, it can license the ARMv8-A architecture and still build a system-on-chip around the 64-bit cores, add acceleration units, then support its Tofu data interconnect, and work in other features it integrated into its SPARC-64 VIIIfx SoCs in the K Computer.

That approach also allowed Fujitsu to work with ARM to develop SVE-– Scalable Vector Extension, and add it to ARMv8-A, an effort that was announced today.

SVE brings long SIMD vectors to the 64-bit ARM world, allowing cores to operate on multiple arrays of data at a time, where each array stores a string of 16, 32 or 64-bit integers or floating-point values up to a total of 2,048 bits per vector.

Compilers can be updated to use these new SVE instructions and features, and Fujitsu can glide from SPARC-64 to ARMv8-A, rebuilding all those applications to harness the new architecture, and provide a common Linux environment on top of its chips.

Source: Fujitsu.

Sponsered ad: Get a Linux Enterprise server with 92 Gigs of RAM, 16 CPUs and 8 TB of storage at our liquidation sale. Only one left in stock.

Sponsered ad: Order the best SMTP service for your business. Guaranteed or your money back.

Share on Twitter.

IT News Archives | Site Search | Advertise on IT Direction | Contact | Home

All logos, trade marks or service marks on this site are the property of their respective owners.

Sponsored by Sure Mail™, Avantex and
by Montreal Server Colocation.

       © IT Direction. All rights reserved.