[Beowulf] Nvidia's ARM chips power supercomputer

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Tue Nov 15 01:25:23 PST 2011


Nvidia's ARM chips power supercomputer

by Brooke Crothers November 14, 2011 6:00 AM PST Follow @mbrookec

Barcelona Supercomputing Center.

Barcelona Supercomputing Center is located in a former chapel.

(Credit: Barcelona Supercomputing Center.)

Nvidia's Tegra chips will for the first time power a supercomputer--more
evidence that ARM is movin' on up into Intel territory.

The chipmaker said today the Barcelona Supercomputing Center is developing a
new hybrid supercomputer that, for the first time, combines energy-efficient
Nvidia Tegra CPUs (central processing units), based on the ARM chip
architecture, with Nvidia's graphics processing units (GPUs).

The supercomputing center plans to develop a system that is two to five times
more energy-efficient compared with today's efficient high-performance
computing systems. Most of today's supercomputers use Intel processors.

"In most current systems, CPUs alone consume the lion's share of the energy,
often 40 percent or more," Alex Ramirez, leader of the Mont-Blanc Project at
the Barcelona Supercomputing Center, said in a statement. "By comparison, the
Mont-Blanc architecture will rely on energy-efficient compute accelerators
and ARM processors...to achieve a 4- to 10-times increase in
energy-efficiency by 2014."

A development kit will feature a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 CPU accelerated by
a discrete Nvidia GPU. It is expected to be available in the first half of

Nvidia also announced today that the National Center for Supercomputing
Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is
deploying a Cray supercomputer accelerated by Nvidia's Tesla GPUs. That's
part of the Blue Waters project to build one of the world's most powerful
computer systems.

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