The race to exascale speed is getting a little more interesting with the introduction of HPE's Astra -- which will be the world's largest ARM-based supercomputer.
HPE has announced the world's largest ARM-powered supercomputer as part of a major HPC project. The computing giant has teamed up with the US Department of Energy (DOE) and Sandia National Laboratories to create the new Astra system as part of the DOE's Vanguard project.
Astra will be used by the US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to run advanced modeling and simulations across a number of areas, including energy and national security.
HPE says this is a stepping stone on the way to developing exascale computing. The National Nuclear Security Administration will use the system for national security, energy, and scientific purposes. The system will be liquid cooled and deploy 5184 ARM SoCs.
The launch comes as demand continually increases for more powerful ways to crunch huge amounts of data in the research and discover space.
HPE’s main contribution to the Astra supercomputer will be its Apollo 70 High-Performance Computing platform, which is powered by the latest Cavium ThunderX2 Arm processor. The Astra supercomputer, sporting a massive 145,000 cores in 2,592 dual-processor servers, will deliver “over 2.3 theoretical peak petaflops of performance, 33 percent better memory performance than traditional market offerings, and greater system density,” the company said.
HPE said this kind of architecture is needed to deliver greater HPC performance for research-intensive tasks that require rapid processing and analyzing of large data sets. The company said the ultimate goal is to deliver what’s called an “exascale” supercomputing system, which is one that would be capable of carrying out 1 billion calculations per second, representing a thousandfold increase over the world’s first “petascale” computer, which went online in 2008.
HPE said an ARM-based architecture is the best bet to achieve this goal because the traditional x86 architecture isn’t able to provide the necessary performance, memory and scalable capabilities required for an exascale system.
“By introducing Arm processors with the HPE Apollo 70, a purpose-built HPC architecture, we are bringing powerful elements, like optimal memory performance and greater density, to supercomputers that existing technologies in the market cannot match,” said Mike Vildibill, vice president of the Advanced Technology Group at HPE.
New architectures and processes such as those based on ARM processors play an important role in the race to capture the supercomputer crown, Holger Mueller, Principal Analyst and Vice President of Constellation Research Inc., said, “Density and energy-efficiency are key success factors in this race and the ARM processor stick out in this regard.” Mueller said, “It will be interesting to watch how the partnership with Sandia Labs helps HPE perform in this race.”