KNUPATH Hermosa-based Commercial Boards Expected in Q1 2017

By John Russell

December 15, 2016

Last June tech start-up KnuEdge emerged from stealth mode to begin spreading the word about its new processor and fabric technology that’s been roughly a decade in the making. It’s nice to have patient capital, a rare commodity for startups these days. The company contends its KNUPATH Hermosa processor with 256 DSP cores and its Lambda fabric will bring performance, scalability, energy, and programmability advantages over CPUs, GPUS, and FPGAs to a wide swath of machine learning applications. The first commercial boards – code named Mavericks – are expected around March this year.

Founded in the 2005 timeframe by Daniel Goldin, the long time NASA administrator, KnuEdge has raised roughly $100M no doubt stemming from investor confidence in Goldin’s extensive technology creation and delivery history. Goldin and company believe their investors’ patience is about to start paying off. KnuEdge has two business units, KNUPATH focused on hardware accelerators based on Hermosa and Lambda technology, and KnuVerse, focused on voice and face recognition systems. The latter, said Steve Cumings, CMO, KnuEdge, has customers in the government sector. Company revenues are somewhat north of $20 million so far.

Broadly, KnuEdge’s view is that a highly scalable processor in a single socket is handicapped in addressing growing machine learning and large-scale computing challenges. In contrast, the company’s Lambda Fabric enables a large number of “KNUPATH Hermosa processors to be interconnected in low latency, high throughput mesh for massively parallel processing which is well suited for application needs that will drive the compute engines of the future.”

This isn’t exactly a new idea. The Hermosa chip and Lambda technology will enter the market amid a gush of machine learning technologies all striving to advance data-driven science and enterprise data analytics. Indeed the emergence of heterogeneous computing architectures relying on a variety of accelerator engines is a key feature of today’s computing landscape. Given Goldin’s remarkable achievements at NASA it should be interesting to watch KnuEdge’s progress.

Early developer boards with two Hermosa chips have been available for some time. Volume sales of individual chips are planned to begin in January followed by the Mavericks offering, a PCIe board with four Hermosa chips, towards the end of the quarter.

Presented as a “neural computing” approach, the KNUPATH architecture actually attempts to mimic nervous system communication more than brain-inspired spiky neuron ‘inference logic’ (discussed further below).

Patrick Patla, senior vice president and general manager of KNUPATH and a former AMD executive, said, “What’s unique about Hermosa’s 256 DSP cores is that they are hooked together at a central part of the processor with a router that has 16 ports. Using the Lambda fabric, it’s possible, at least theoretically, to scale to 500,000 Hermosa processors.

“We are a data flow machine. So you push data through the system and can have the calculation and different algorithms change on the fly. We are different than a GPU accelerator in that they use a SIMD architecture. We use multiple programs, multiple data, so on our 256 cores we could have 256 separate algorithms running. You would push data through those algorithms and then you have hits on the data at different hit rates based on the algorithms and you can tune and resend algorithms to those DSPs through packets,” explained Patla.

“Basically the packets that we send through the Lambda network are what allows the programming of the DSP, so packets deliver the program, the algorithm, and then bring the payload, and push the data through it. Not only are you getting all the data and the operating instructions with each packet, but each core also knows the next destination for that information so it’s extremely efficient.” One result is very low latency at various systems levels (see diagram below).

Patla also contrasted Hermosa’s ease of use with emerging brain-inspired neuromorphic chips such as IBM’s TrueNorth, which uses “spiking neuron” architecture.

“Spiky algorithms are notoriously difficult to program. Commonly they are trained on other networks first and then moved onto the neuromorphic chip so the actual software side of that is different,” he said.

As noted earlier the Hermosa-Lambda architecture emulates neuronal connectivity more than brain processing. “If you look at the different neuron-based approaches, our inspiration really gives you lots of little engines – that’s the background of the DSP cores, what we affectionately sometimes call tDSPs or tiny DSPs,” said Patla. Reliance on familiar DSP architecture eases programming.

“Our tools sit on a C/C++ library set on top of LLVM (compiler). And everybody is familiar with OpenCL as well as OpenMPI which is very comfortable in our architecture,” said Patla. The Hermosa/Lambda architecture also supports NUMA (non uniform memory access) and each processor has memory directly (72MB) on it. “Much of the advantage is the dataflow but also all the advantages of common programming techniques for anybody that has worked on OpenMPI. Many of the other [neuromorphic] architecture require a different set of tools.”

Hermosa Development Board

KnuEdge has had a software developer kit out for “quite some time” and it is already in the hands of many developers, according to Patla.

It all sounds great. In April KnuEdge will hold a Hermosa developers’ conference at UCSD as well as a “heterogeneous neural network conference” in partnership with UCSD for the development of next generation algorithms that can take advantage of new architectures such as Hermosa. Patla said performance benchmarks for chip will be forthcoming with the release of the commercial product; it seems like the developer conference would be a good place to do so, but he wouldn’t specify when beyond the first half of the year.

“Right now, as you would imagine, we are in the labs with our SDKs and final verification of those commercial systems as we are tuning and bringing all of our code to the processors. In the future we’ll show configurations of 4, 8, 12, 16, Hermosas together to show the scalability of the Lambda fabric. When Steve talked about mimicking the nervous systems it really is about our connectivity and the fact that when you add more Hermosas to the network, we continue to scale because with every socket you are adding more memory as well. Each processor has 72MB of onchip memory that is sufficient for the programming of our kinds of algorithms and the workload we are trying to tackle.”

Currently the chip is being fabbed by GLOBALFOUNDARIES on the 32nm process. “It’s a well behaved chip where these 256 cores and fabric and everything lives in a 35-watt part,” said Patla.

The KNUPATH folks believe Hermosa has the potential to meet a wide variety of machine-learning kinds of applications performed in heterogeneous computing environments as well as an opportunity to replace existing approaches to those applications.

‘We have a demo on the website that compares us to the most current NVIDIA card and we have a 2.5x performance. It is very interesting that a video card isn’t very good at video compression that we are good at because of the parallelism of communication we handle across the memory. So that’s one of the spaces we’ll be aiming at. And of course it will also find its way into many of the single board computer spaces because at 35 watts and the ability to do signal processing and such fine grained computing we actually expect it to replace many FPGAs in a lot of environments.”

Patla argues Hermosa/Lambda’s flexibility is a major benefit and door opener – one could divvy the chips up and have a multipurpose SOC instead of dedicating it to just one task. He used a video analysis application as an example of flexibility and reprogrammability.

“You can reprogram a core by just delivering a new packet. For example, if you were doing video analysis and were searching within videos, you could be looking for ball caps. You could have all the different algorithms looking at ball caps and you could just all of a sudden reprogram and divide the chip and have 25 percent of the chip looking for red ball caps and 25 percent looking for blue caps. You could flip to four different algorithms in nanoseconds. Then when you have high hit rates and you realize the one you are really looking for, and you could say OK now all care about our green ball caps and that algorithm would propagate against all the cores and you’d be able to take your throughput up. It’s very fast, very flexible,” he said.

At SC16, the KNUPATH team was busily evangelizing. Patla said they talked to a number of cloud providers as well as national labs that expressed interest to the point that he is expecting some new workloads to emerge.

There’s still much to do. Patla ticked off desirable milestones for 2017 – getting out of the lab, showcasing a couple of commercial customers and workloads, integrating the many machine learning frameworks, making sure Hermosa-based systems get into the cloud somewhere for development and production purposes, to name but a few.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

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

First All-Petaflops Top500 List Debuts; US Maintains Performance Lead

June 17, 2019

With the kick-off of the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) in Frankfurt this morning, the 53rd Top500 list made its debut, and this one's for petafloppers only. The entry point for the new list is 1.022 petaf Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Embraces Arm, Declares Intent to Accelerate All CPU Architectures

June 17, 2019

As the Top500 list was being announced at ISC in Frankfurt today with an upgraded petascale Arm supercomputer in the top third of the list, Nvidia announced its intention to make Arm a full citizen in the processing arch Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Jack Wells Joins OpenACC; Arm Support Coming

June 17, 2019

Perhaps the most significant ISC19 news for OpenACC wasn’t in its official press release yesterday which touted growing user traction and the notable addition of HPC leader Jack Wells, director of science, Oak Ridge Le Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture: How to Power a Cloud

Learn how HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture provide critical infrastructure for leading Nordic HPC provider’s HPCFLOW cloud service.

For decades, HPE has been at the forefront of high-performance computing, and we’ve powered some of the fastest and most robust supercomputers in the world. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

5 Benefits Artificial Intelligence Brings to HPC

According to findings from Hyperion Research, simulation is primarily responsible for expanding the global HPC market from $2 billion in 1990 to a projected $38 billion in 2022. Read more…

At ISC: DDN Launches EXA5 for AI, Big Data, HPC Workloads

June 17, 2019

DDN, for two decades competing at the headwaters of high performance storage, this morning announced an enterprise-oriented end-to-end high performance storage and data management for AI, big data and HPC acceleration. I Read more…

By Doug Black

First All-Petaflops Top500 List Debuts; US Maintains Performance Lead

June 17, 2019

With the kick-off of the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) in Frankfurt this morning, the 53rd Top500 list made its debut, and this one's for petafl Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Embraces Arm, Declares Intent to Accelerate All CPU Architectures

June 17, 2019

As the Top500 list was being announced at ISC in Frankfurt today with an upgraded petascale Arm supercomputer in the top third of the list, Nvidia announced its Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Jack Wells Joins OpenACC; Arm Support Coming

June 17, 2019

Perhaps the most significant ISC19 news for OpenACC wasn’t in its official press release yesterday which touted growing user traction and the notable addition Read more…

By John Russell

At ISC: DDN Launches EXA5 for AI, Big Data, HPC Workloads

June 17, 2019

DDN, for two decades competing at the headwaters of high performance storage, this morning announced an enterprise-oriented end-to-end high performance storage Read more…

By Doug Black

Final Countdown to ISC19: What to See

June 13, 2019

If you're attending the International Supercomputing Conference, taking place in Frankfurt next week (June 16-20), you're either packing, in transit, or are alr Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The US Global Weather Forecast System Just Got a Major Upgrade

June 13, 2019

The United States’ Global Forecast System (GFS) has received a major upgrade to its modeling capabilities. The new dynamical core that has been added to the G Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

TSMC and Samsung Moving to 5nm; Whither Moore’s Law?

June 12, 2019

With reports that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TMSC) and Samsung are moving quickly to 5nm manufacturing, it’s a good time to again ponder whither goes the venerable Moore’s law. Shrinking feature size has of course been the primary hallmark of achieving Moore’s law... Read more…

By John Russell

The Spaceborne Computer Returns to Earth, and HPE Eyes an AI-Protected Spaceborne 2

June 10, 2019

After 615 days on the International Space Station (ISS), HPE’s Spaceborne Computer has returned to Earth. The computer touched down onboard the same SpaceX Dr Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

High Performance (Potato) Chips

May 5, 2006

In this article, we focus on how Procter & Gamble is using high performance computing to create some common, everyday supermarket products. Tom Lange, a 27-year veteran of the company, tells us how P&G models products, processes and production systems for the betterment of consumer package goods. Read more…

By Michael Feldman

Cray, AMD to Extend DOE’s Exascale Frontier

May 7, 2019

Cray and AMD are coming back to Oak Ridge National Laboratory to partner on the world’s largest and most expensive supercomputer. The Department of Energy’s Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Graphene Surprises Again, This Time for Quantum Computing

May 8, 2019

Graphene is fascinating stuff with promise for use in a seeming endless number of applications. This month researchers from the University of Vienna and Institu Read more…

By John Russell

Why Nvidia Bought Mellanox: ‘Future Datacenters Will Be…Like High Performance Computers’

March 14, 2019

“Future datacenters of all kinds will be built like high performance computers,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during a phone briefing on Monday after Nvidia revealed scooping up the high performance networking company Mellanox for $6.9 billion. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Verifies Its Largest 7nm Chip Design in Ten Hours

June 5, 2019

AMD announced last week that its engineers had successfully executed the first physical verification of its largest 7nm chip design – in just ten hours. The AMD Radeon Instinct Vega20 – which boasts 13.2 billion transistors – was tested using a TSMC-certified Calibre nmDRC software platform from Mentor. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

It’s Official: Aurora on Track to Be First US Exascale Computer in 2021

March 18, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy along with Intel and Cray confirmed today that an Intel/Cray supercomputer, "Aurora," capable of sustained performance of one exaf Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Deep Learning Competitors Stalk Nvidia

May 14, 2019

There is no shortage of processing architectures emerging to accelerate deep learning workloads, with two more options emerging this week to challenge GPU leader Nvidia. First, Intel researchers claimed a new deep learning record for image classification on the ResNet-50 convolutional neural network. Separately, Israeli AI chip startup Hailo.ai... Read more…

By George Leopold

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

Leading Solution Providers

SC 18 Virtual Booth Video Tour

Advania @ SC18 AMD @ SC18
ASRock Rack @ SC18
DDN Storage @ SC18
HPE @ SC18
IBM @ SC18
Lenovo @ SC18 Mellanox Technologies @ SC18
NVIDIA @ SC18
One Stop Systems @ SC18
Oracle @ SC18 Panasas @ SC18
Supermicro @ SC18 SUSE @ SC18 TYAN @ SC18
Verne Global @ SC18

TSMC and Samsung Moving to 5nm; Whither Moore’s Law?

June 12, 2019

With reports that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TMSC) and Samsung are moving quickly to 5nm manufacturing, it’s a good time to again ponder whither goes the venerable Moore’s law. Shrinking feature size has of course been the primary hallmark of achieving Moore’s law... Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Launches Cascade Lake Xeons with Up to 56 Cores

April 2, 2019

At Intel's Data-Centric Innovation Day in San Francisco (April 2), the company unveiled its second-generation Xeon Scalable (Cascade Lake) family and debuted it Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray – and the Cray Brand – to Be Positioned at Tip of HPE’s HPC Spear

May 22, 2019

More so than with most acquisitions of this kind, HPE’s purchase of Cray for $1.3 billion, announced last week, seems to have elements of that overused, often Read more…

By Doug Black and Tiffany Trader

Arm Unveils Neoverse N1 Platform with up to 128-Cores

February 20, 2019

Following on its Neoverse roadmap announcement last October, Arm today revealed its next-gen Neoverse microarchitecture with compute and throughput-optimized si Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Announcing four new HPC capabilities in Google Cloud Platform

April 15, 2019

When you’re running compute-bound or memory-bound applications for high performance computing or large, data-dependent machine learning training workloads on Read more…

By Wyatt Gorman, HPC Specialist, Google Cloud; Brad Calder, VP of Engineering, Google Cloud; Bart Sano, VP of Platforms, Google Cloud

In Wake of Nvidia-Mellanox: Xilinx to Acquire Solarflare

April 25, 2019

With echoes of Nvidia’s recent acquisition of Mellanox, FPGA maker Xilinx has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Solarflare Communications, provider Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia Claims 6000x Speed-Up for Stock Trading Backtest Benchmark

May 13, 2019

A stock trading backtesting algorithm used by hedge funds to simulate trading variants has received a massive, GPU-based performance boost, according to Nvidia, Read more…

By Doug Black

HPE to Acquire Cray for $1.3B

May 17, 2019

Venerable supercomputer pioneer Cray Inc. will be acquired by Hewlett Packard Enterprise for $1.3 billion under a definitive agreement announced this morning. T Read more…

By Doug Black & Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This