NVIDIA and ARM Holdings are hoping to revolutionize the supercomputing industry with new high-performance servers that combine NVIDIA's Tesla graphics card and 64-bit ARM CPUs.
The Tesla K20 GPU accelerators, the same graphics card found in the world's second fastest supercomputer, will be combined with Applied Micro X-Gene ARM64 CPUs to allow manufacturers to build ARM64 servers that can handle high-performance computing (HPC) tasks and compute-intensive workloads normally only tackled by x86 processors from Intel or Advanced Micro Devices. Energy-sipping ARM processors, which are originally made for smartphones, cannot perform high-speed complicated tasks, but pairing them with a graphics card will significantly increase its horsepower without upping its energy consumption.
However, as these processors grow in computing power, they also use up too much energy to be commercially viable. Researchers say that while supercomputers that can process a billion billion calculations per second are possible, experts will have to find away to cut down its energy consumption from 7 gigawatts to a lower figure. That is where the new ARM64 servers come in.
"The availability of accelerated 64-bit ARM servers is one of the most significant developments to hit the HPC market this year. IDC believes there is substantial interest within the HPC community in evaluating GPU-accelerated 64-bit ARM systems for next-generation computing projects," says Earl Joseph, vice president for HPC at IDC, in a statement.
ARM64 processors may still have a long way to go before they can power super-fast computers that can process a billion billion calculations in a moment, but the industry has been seeing a burgeoning interest in low-powered 64-bit ARM processors. In fact, other big names such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard are looking into shipping their own 64-bit ARM servers with the aim of curbing energy consumption in data centers.
Cirrascale and E4 Computer Engineering will manufacture the world's first ARM64 servers. The Cirrascale RM1905D, which is designed for high-performance cloud-based services, and the E4EK003 made for Web computing, analytics and seismic applications, will feature octa-core Applied Micro X-Gene CPUs with Tesla K20 graphics cards and will come with DDR3 memory, 10-gigabit Ethernet and PCI-Express 3.0. Eurotech will also ship its own ARM64 servers with direct hot liquid cooling later in the year.
NVIDIA, which announced the new technology at the International Supercomputing Conference in Leipzig, Germany Monday, has been one of ARM's staunch supporters, integrating ARM cores into its Tegra systems on a chip (SoC) and opening up its CUDA parallel programming platform on ARM processors.