China’s Dark Horse Supercomputing Chip: FeiTeng

By Michael Feldman

January 19, 2012

Chinese development of domestic microprocessors for high performance computing seems to be ramping up. The Godson-3B and ShenWei SW1600 CPUs were the first out of the gate, with the latter chip powering a Chinese petascale supercomputer. Waiting in the wings is the FeiTeng processor, an architecture that could be the one that takes Chinese supercomputing into the exascale realm.

Although, there is not a lot of information publicly available on the latest FeiTeng chip, at one time it was being promoted as “the world’s first 64-bit stream processor dedicated for high-performance science computing.” The architecture, which is variously known as the FeiTeng, YinHe, the YinHe FeiTeng, and the FT64, has been developed at the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) in Hunan Province. The design work culminated in its first implementation under the FT64 moniker in 2007.

According to a paper presented at the International Symposium on Computer Architecture in 2007 (ISCA 2007) and published by the ACM that year, the FT64 architecture and instruction set was specifically designed with high performance computing in mind. The instructions are of the VLIW persuasion and nearly half of them apply to 64-bit FP operations. Not surprisingly, about 36 percent of the die is devoted to arithmetic operations.

This first-generation FeiTeng was implemented on 130nm process technology and, at 500 MHz, delivered a peak performance of 16 gigaflops. While that’s nothing to get too excited about today, keep in mind that the FT64 is nearly five years old. What’s more impressive is that the chip consumed a mere 8.6 watts of power, which would yield an energy efficiency of about 1.8 gigaflops/watt. The current top of the line NVIDIA GPU in the Tesla M02090, built on 2011-era 40nm technology, delivers about 2.9 gigaflops/watt.

Like its GPGPU cousin, the FT64 was meant to run as a coprocessor, driven by a host CPU. The ACM paper describes an HPC system board that had one host driving eight FT64 and communicating with each coprocessor via an on-chip host interface. Like the GPU-CPU systems of today, FT64 memory and host memory are separate.

The FT64 designers also came up with a stream programming language called SF95, which extended FORTRAN95 with 10 compiler directives to exploit the architecture. The compiler was used to benchmark the FT64 against an Itanium 2 using nine science application kernels (FFT, EP, MG, Swim, CG, Laplace, Jacobi, GEMM, and NLAG-5). Except for the CG kernel where the FT64 had just a tenth of the Itanium’s performance, the stream processor was between 1 and 2.5 times faster than the Itanium on the other kernels, and 8 time faster on FFT.

However, a somewhat different picture of the architecture emerged, based on a seminar delivered last month (December 2011) at the National University of Defense Technology. The seminar abstract is provided here:

YinHe FeiTeng (YHFT) series high-performance general-purpose CPUs, aimed for high-performance computing, are developed by school of computer, National University of Defense Technology. The first generation of the YHFT CPU adapts the EPIC (Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing) architecture. Its ISA (Instruction Set Architecture) is fully compatible with Intel Itanium2. The second generation is based on the SoC (System-on-Chip) architecture. It is composed of a general-purpose CPU and a stream processor, which is the world’s first 64-bit stream processor dedicated for high-performance science computing. The processor has been successfully used in the YinHe high-performance supercomputer system as an accelerator. The research results are published at ISCA 2007 and IEEE TPDS. The third generation of the YHFT CPU is a multi-core processor. Its ISA is fully compatible with SPARC. It supports floating-point SIMD (Single Instruction Multiple Data) and multi-chip interconnection to enhance parallel processing and constitute a SMP (Symmetric Multi-Processing) system directly. The first version of this multi-core processor has been used on the TH-1A PFLOPS supercomputer systems, and the ongoing upgraded version will be taped out in the next year and used in the next generation of the TH supercomputer system.

According to this, the FT64 was actually the second generation of the architecture and was deployed in some fashion in one of the YinHe (Galaxy) supercomputers in China — presumably this one, although theoretically there could be an even lower-profile YinHe machine in existence somewhere else.

The third generation of the FeiTeng architecture sounds more like a conventional, standalone CPU, rather than a stream accelerator per se. The reference to this latest chip being used in the TianHe-1A supercomputer, with upgraded version due to be deployed in the next generation TH machine, is especially interesting. At 4.7 peak petaflops, the NUDT’s TianHe-1A is currently China’s most powerful machine, but is powered by Intel Xeon and NVIDIA Tesla parts.

It’s not clear how big a role the upgraded FeiTeng chips will play in the next generation TH machine, but the NUDT has not been any more loyal to chip manufacturers, than its US counterparts. In 2010, the NUDT used Intel Xeon and AMD’s Radeon GPUs for its first generation petascale machine, the TianHe-1. The following year they switched to NVIDIA GPUs for the TianHe-1A.

Given China’s desire to develop and use indigenous microprocessors for its HPC sector, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see FeiTeng processors replace both Intel and NVIDIA parts in a future NUDT supercomputer. Obviously, supercomputing centers in the country are experimenting a lot with microprocessors, although at this point are willing to use just about anything that maximizes performance. But it’s almost certain that China would want its first exaflop machine to be entirely built with domestic technology, including, of course, the microprocessors.

Related articles

China’s Indigenous Supercomputing Strategy Bears First Fruit

China Deploys First Petaflop Supercomputer with Native Chips

Top Chinese Supercomputers Point to Aggressive HPC Strategy

China Makes Its Own Supercomputing Cores

China Preps Godson Chip for Supercomputing Duty

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industry updates delivered to you every week!

A Big Memory Nvidia GH200 Next to Your Desk: Closer Than You Think

February 22, 2024

Students of the microprocessor may recall that the original 8086/8088 processors did not have floating point units. The motherboard often had an extra socket for an optional 8087 math coprocessor. The math coprocessor ma Read more…

IonQ Reports Advance on Path to Networked Quantum Computing

February 22, 2024

IonQ reported reaching a milestone in its efforts to use entangled photon-ion connectivity to scale its quantum computers. IonQ’s quantum computers are based on trapped ions which feature long coherence times and qubit Read more…

Apple Rolls out Post Quantum Security for iOS

February 21, 2024

Think implementing so-called Post Quantum Cryptography (PQC) isn't important because quantum computers able to decrypt current RSA codes don’t yet exist? Not Apple. Today the consumer electronics giant started rolling Read more…

GenAI Having Major Impact on Data Culture, Survey Says

February 21, 2024

While 2023 was the year of GenAI, the adoption rates for GenAI did not match expectations. Most organizations are continuing to invest in GenAI but are yet to derive any substantial value from it. However, the GenAI hyp Read more…

QED-C Issues New Quantum Benchmarking Paper

February 20, 2024

The Quantum Economic Development Consortium last week released a new paper on benchmarking – Quantum Algorithm Exploration using Application-Oriented Performance Benchmarks – that builds on earlier work and is an eff Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Shutterstock 2283618597

Deep-dive into Ansys Fluent performance on Ansys Gateway powered by AWS

Today, we’re going to deep-dive into the performance and associated cost of running computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations on AWS using Ansys Fluent through the Ansys Gateway powered by AWS (or just “Ansys Gateway” for the rest of this post). Read more…

Atom Computing Reports Advance in Scaling Up Neutral Atom Qubit Arrays

February 15, 2024

The scale-up challenge facing quantum computing (QC) is daunting and varied. It’s commonly held that 1 million qubits (or more) will be needed to deliver practical fault tolerant QC. It’s also a varied challenge beca Read more…

A Big Memory Nvidia GH200 Next to Your Desk: Closer Than You Think

February 22, 2024

Students of the microprocessor may recall that the original 8086/8088 processors did not have floating point units. The motherboard often had an extra socket fo Read more…

Apple Rolls out Post Quantum Security for iOS

February 21, 2024

Think implementing so-called Post Quantum Cryptography (PQC) isn't important because quantum computers able to decrypt current RSA codes don’t yet exist? Not Read more…

QED-C Issues New Quantum Benchmarking Paper

February 20, 2024

The Quantum Economic Development Consortium last week released a new paper on benchmarking – Quantum Algorithm Exploration using Application-Oriented Performa Read more…

The Pulse of HPC: Tracking 4.5 Million Heartbeats of 3D Coronary Flow

February 15, 2024

Working in Duke University's Randles Lab, Cyrus Tanade, a National Science Foundation graduate student fellow and Ph.D. candidate in biomedical engineering, is Read more…

It Doesn’t Get Much SWEETER: The Winter HPC Computing Festival in Corpus Christi

February 14, 2024

(Main Photo by Visit Corpus Christi CrowdRiff) Texas A&M University's High-Performance Research Computing (HPRC) team hosted the "SWEETER Winter Comput Read more…

Q-Roundup: Diraq’s War Chest, DARPA’s Bet on Topological Qubits, Citi/Classiq Explore Optimization, WEF’s Quantum Blueprint

February 13, 2024

Yesterday, Australian start-up Diraq added $15 million to its war chest (now $120 million) to build a fault tolerant computer based on quantum dots. Last week D Read more…

2024 Winter Classic: Razor Thin Margins in HPL/HPCG

February 12, 2024

The first task for the 11 teams in the 2024 Winter Classic student cluster competition was to run and optimize the LINPACK and HPCG benchmarks. As usual, the Read more…

2024 Winter Classic: We’re Back!

February 9, 2024

The fourth edition of the Winter Classic Invitational Student Cluster Competition is up and running. This year, we have 11 teams of eager students representin Read more…

CORNELL I-WAY DEMONSTRATION PITS PARASITE AGAINST VICTIM

October 6, 1995

Ithaca, NY --Visitors to this year's Supercomputing '95 (SC'95) conference will witness a life-and-death struggle between parasite and victim, using virtual Read more…

SGI POWERS VIRTUAL OPERATING ROOM USED IN SURGEON TRAINING

October 6, 1995

Surgery simulations to date have largely been created through the development of dedicated applications requiring considerable programming and computer graphi Read more…

U.S. Will Relax Export Restrictions on Supercomputers

October 6, 1995

New York, NY -- U.S. President Bill Clinton has announced that he will definitely relax restrictions on exports of high-performance computers, giving a boost Read more…

Dutch HPC Center Will Have 20 GFlop, 76-Node SP2 Online by 1996

October 6, 1995

Amsterdam, the Netherlands -- SARA, (Stichting Academisch Rekencentrum Amsterdam), Academic Computing Services of Amsterdam recently announced that it has pur Read more…

Cray Delivers J916 Compact Supercomputer to Solvay Chemical

October 6, 1995

Eagan, Minn. -- Cray Research Inc. has delivered a Cray J916 low-cost compact supercomputer and Cray's UniChem client/server computational chemistry software Read more…

NEC Laboratory Reviews First Year of Cooperative Projects

October 6, 1995

Sankt Augustin, Germany -- NEC C&C (Computers and Communication) Research Laboratory at the GMD Technopark has wrapped up its first year of operation. Read more…

Sun and Sybase Say SQL Server 11 Benchmarks at 4544.60 tpmC

October 6, 1995

Mountain View, Calif. -- Sun Microsystems, Inc. and Sybase, Inc. recently announced the first benchmark results for SQL Server 11. The result represents a n Read more…

New Study Says Parallel Processing Market Will Reach $14B in 1999

October 6, 1995

Mountain View, Calif. -- A study by the Palo Alto Management Group (PAMG) indicates the market for parallel processing systems will increase at more than 4 Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

CORNELL I-WAY DEMONSTRATION PITS PARASITE AGAINST VICTIM

October 6, 1995

Ithaca, NY --Visitors to this year's Supercomputing '95 (SC'95) conference will witness a life-and-death struggle between parasite and victim, using virtual Read more…

SGI POWERS VIRTUAL OPERATING ROOM USED IN SURGEON TRAINING

October 6, 1995

Surgery simulations to date have largely been created through the development of dedicated applications requiring considerable programming and computer graphi Read more…

U.S. Will Relax Export Restrictions on Supercomputers

October 6, 1995

New York, NY -- U.S. President Bill Clinton has announced that he will definitely relax restrictions on exports of high-performance computers, giving a boost Read more…

Dutch HPC Center Will Have 20 GFlop, 76-Node SP2 Online by 1996

October 6, 1995

Amsterdam, the Netherlands -- SARA, (Stichting Academisch Rekencentrum Amsterdam), Academic Computing Services of Amsterdam recently announced that it has pur Read more…

Cray Delivers J916 Compact Supercomputer to Solvay Chemical

October 6, 1995

Eagan, Minn. -- Cray Research Inc. has delivered a Cray J916 low-cost compact supercomputer and Cray's UniChem client/server computational chemistry software Read more…

NEC Laboratory Reviews First Year of Cooperative Projects

October 6, 1995

Sankt Augustin, Germany -- NEC C&C (Computers and Communication) Research Laboratory at the GMD Technopark has wrapped up its first year of operation. Read more…

Sun and Sybase Say SQL Server 11 Benchmarks at 4544.60 tpmC

October 6, 1995

Mountain View, Calif. -- Sun Microsystems, Inc. and Sybase, Inc. recently announced the first benchmark results for SQL Server 11. The result represents a n Read more…

New Study Says Parallel Processing Market Will Reach $14B in 1999

October 6, 1995

Mountain View, Calif. -- A study by the Palo Alto Management Group (PAMG) indicates the market for parallel processing systems will increase at more than 4 Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire