Europe’s ExaScale system: ARM CPU cores meet Ponte Vecchio accelerators

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Europe's ExaScale system: ARM CPU cores meet Ponte Vecchio accelerators

Image: SiPearl

Europe’s first ExaScale supercomputer will, in addition to ARM CPUs, rely on Intel’s Ponte Vecchio to deliver the targeted performance. The system planned as a purely European project has thus become half an off-the-peg system that relies on known ARM Neoverse V1 cores, HBM2e and additional Intel GPUs.

Originally planned with 72 cores, the French developer SiPearl recently reduced the European Rhea processor to 64 Zeus cores. These are manufactured at TSMC in level N6. Flanked by HBM2e storage, a 2.5D package is to be created and form part of the system. DDR5 memory and PCIe 5.0 are the most important interfaces to the outside world – Intel now comes into play via the latter.

Rhea relies on 64 ARM cores Rhea relies on 64 ARM cores (Image: SiPearl) Rhea for Europe's first ExaScale supercomputer Rhea for Europe’s first ExaScale supercomputer (Image: SiPearl)

An ExaScale system is only possible with processors; this always requires the performance of fast accelerators. Intel will shortly be delivering the first of its own solutions with the name Ponte Vecchio, which will first go into the US supercomputer Aurora – also an ExaScale system. Immediately after that, it could be the turn of Europe, and Intel would like to see a system here too in 2022. However, it is only realistic to use it in 2023, because the CPU will not be ready until 2022. Germany could get the first ExaScale system, followed by France.

So that Intel’s GPU can work together with the ARM cores, Intel’s up-and-coming software interface oneAPI will be used and adapted accordingly. For the current event Intel ON, Intel is increasingly trying to attract developers and is advertising in all directions with the associated software kit and its possibilities.

For Intel’s HPC segment, the use of Ponte Vecchio in the European ExaScale supercomputer is definitely a success. Coupled with the confirmed higher performance than previously forecast, after many difficulties in the past few years, the road to success could still be found for the project.

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