News & Insights for the AI Journey|Friday, April 19, 2019
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ARM Will be Part of OpenHPC 1.2 Release at SC16 

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Perhaps stealing a bit of OpenHPC’s SC16 thunder, ARM announced today that ARMv8-A will be the first alternative architecture with OpenHPC support and part of OpenHPC version 1.2 released at SC16. The announcement came in a blog by Darren Cepulis of ARM. Late last month Figen Ulgen, of Intel and an OpenHPC board member, suggested the version 1.2 was in the works but wouldn’t confirm the timing.

Delivering support for ARM is a significant milestone for both organizations as ARM strives to extend its penetration of high-end server and HPC markets and OpenHPC works to gain traction among a broader set of vendors and users. OpenHPC, of course, was formally announced at SC15 last year with Intel leading the charge. The idea is that availability of an open source HPC stack and toolbox should ease HPC deployment, particularly in the enterprise where HPC expertise is often lacking.

openhpc_logo_405x228Version 1.1.1 has roughly 60 components and was released in June when OpenHPC became a full-fledged Linux Foundation Open Collaborative project. Since the first release, roughly 68 percent of the components have been updated, said Ulgen. (See, HPCWire article, OpenHPC Pushes to Prove its Openness and Value at SC16.) In his blog, Cepulis wrote:

“Working with a couple key partners, namely Cavium and SUSE, we collaborated to enable the OpenHPC build environment with the latest ARM-based hardware and operating system support. Cavium provided their latest dual-socket servers based on ThunderX for installation at the TACC (Texas Advanced Computing Center) site in Austin, TX, and SUSE has just recently announced full ARMv8-A support in SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12. Taken all together, you now have a complete open and standards-based HPC platform covering hardware, OS, and a full set of community-defined HPC software tools, all pre-built and tested on the ARMv8-A architecture.

“As a founder and board member of OpenHPC, SUSE has contributed the Linux OS elements along with the underlying HPC system building componentry and system tools. Cavium, with its ThunderX processors based on the ARMv8-A architecture, already has several HPC end-user and system engagements underway. Some public examples are Cavium’s deployment at the Hartree Centre in the UK and their engagement with the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre in Spain. Currently, OpenHPC supports releases for SUSE and CENTOS OS’s and our initial ARM release in OpenHPC v1.2 will cover both as well.”

ARMCepulis also discussed steps to strengthen ARM’s tools, announcing a pair of commercial Linux user-space compilers running natively on ARMv8-A hardware and generating code for the current and future generations of the ARMv8-A architecture. Both compilers will initially support C/C++, with Fortran support on the way in 2017. “We’ve split the compiler products into two choices, based on the user needs,” wrote Cepulis:

  • ARM compiler for HPC: Optimized for Neon vectorization on ARMv8-A, the compiling environment combines the ARM Performance Libraries with the commercially-supported ARM-native compiler
  • ARM SVE compiler for HPC: Supports the recently announced Scalable Vector Extensions (SVE). Includes compiler auto-vectorization passes, SVE-tuned kernels in the ARM Performance Libraries, and the ARM Instruction Emulator, which allows SVE application binaries to execute on non-SVE ARMv8-A systems available today.

The SVE extension to the ARMV8-A architecture significantly extends the vector processing capabilities associated with AArch64 execution in the ARM architecture, enabling implementation choices for vector lengths that scale from 128- to 2048-bits. While availability of server SoC (system on a chip) designs based on ARMv8-A SVE are still a few years down the road, it’s important that we begin work with developers now to ensure a robust HPC software ecosystem is in place to support those designs.

There’s been a fair amount of ARM watching of late partly to gauge ARM momentum in a processor landscape currently dominated by Intel but with IBM Power and ARM (among others) striving to make inroads. At ISC, Fujitsu announced its post k computer would be ARM-based, a strong show of commitment at the high-end although the project as announced a delayed timetable. Also noteworthy is ARM’s relatively recent purchase by SoftBank, the Japan-based technology conglomerate, which conceivably could provide more resources for development (technology and ecosystem).

ARM has an SC16 booth (#4033) to showcase its ecosystem and will feature Broadcom’s Eval Server, Kaleao’s Server for HPDA as well as SoftIron’s CEPH Storage Server Appliance. There are also a few ARM-related paper presentations:

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