[Beowulf] Are mobile processors ready for HPC?

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Mon May 27 08:28:01 PDT 2013


Smartphone chips may power servers, researchers say

Agam Shah, IDG News Service

@agamsh May 25, 2013 12:50 PMprint

Looking at historical trends and performance benchmarks, a team of
researchers in Spain have concluded that smartphone chips could one day
replace the more expensive and power-hungry x86 processors used in most of
the world's top supercomputers.

"History may be about to repeat itself," researchers at the Barcelona
Supercomputing Center wrote in a paper titled "Are mobile processors ready
for HPC?" The paper was presented at the EDAworkshop13 in Dresden, Germany,
this month.

Chip Wars

The researchers point to the history of less expensive chips bumping out
faster but higher-priced processors in high-performance systems. In 1993, the
list of the world's fastest supercomputers, known as the Top500, was
dominated by systems based on vector processors. They were nudged out by less
expensive RISC processors like IBM's Power chip, whose use in supercomputers
peaked early in the past decade. The RISC chips in turn were eventually
replaced by cheaper commodity processors like Intel's Xeon and Advanced Micro
Devices' Opteron, which today are used in more than 400 supercomputers on the
Top500 list.

The transitions had a common thread, the researchers wrote: Microprocessors
killed the vector supercomputers because they were "significantly cheaper and
greener," they said.

"Mobile processors are not faster ... but they are significantly cheaper,"
the researchers wrote.



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