“Scientists have a growing choice of potential computer architectures to choose from, including new 64-bit ARM CPUs, graphics processors, and many-core CPUs from Intel. Choosing the best architecture for an application can be a difficult task, so the new Isambard GW4 Tier 2 HPC service aims to provide access to a wide range of the most promising emerging architectures, all using the same software stack. Isambard is a unique system that will enable direct â€˜apples-to-applesâ€™ comparisons across architectures, thus enabling UK scientists to better understand which architecture best suits their application.”
See GW4 joins industry partners to develop â€˜first of its kindâ€™ supercomputerThis is interesting. I’ve chosen ARM for my next generation of clients and servers based on advertised specs and history but ARM is still new to many people in production systems and folks want to test hardware. In UK, an HPC setup is going to allow scientists to test both ARM and Intel running the same software. Cool. There’s no doubt Intel has advantages when raw power is the only consideration but in the real world folks want to consider computation per unit volume/energy/time/price/whatever. With such a setup as long as the software is not optimized for one architecture or the other it could be an objective test. Stay tuned.
“Isambard will include over 10,000 64-bit ARMv8 cores, in addition to a smattering of x86 CPUs, Intel Knights Landing Xeon Phi processors, and NVIDIA P100 GPUs. The projectâ€™s rationale for this architectural diversity is to compare application performance across a range of processors on the same machine.”
Cray has been around for ages. I remember machines they built back in the day from discrete transistors, liquid-cooled machines curved to minimize transfer times and other things that seem odd today… but they were fast and available to scientists. I never got to use one though. I lived in an IBM/DEC shop…
Cray may not be alone in this space for long. Another consortium is building on Cavium Thunder-X2 modules. ARM64 will finally get a workout in a relatively open environment.