Fujitsu Launches M12 Servers; Emphasizes Commitment to SPARC

By John Russell

April 4, 2017

Delivering on their promised SPARC roadmap, Fujitsu and Oracle today introduced two new servers – the M12-2 and M12-2S – featuring the new SPARC64 XII chip announced last year and a new hybrid liquid/vapor cooling system. The new servers, says Fujitsu, “achieve the world’s highest per CPU core performance in arithmetic processing, offering dramatic improvements for a wide range of database workloads, from mission-critical systems on premises to big data processing in the cloud.”

A big part of the intended message here is that Fujitsu’s commitment to the SPARC ecosystem remains strong. “We feel this is a good empirical marker to show we are continuing to invest in the SPARC platform. This is not a softball product release. These are all significant advances and represent a lot of time and effort,” said Alex Lam, vice president and head of North America strategy.

Fujitsu, of course, is a major chip supplier and systems builder. The company notably jumped from the SPARC chip, which it used in building Japan’s K computer, to ARM for the post K computer now under development as part of Japan’s Flagship 2020 Project. The latter project has experienced delay which many observers attributed to challenges adapting the ARM architecture for supercomputing (see HPCwire article, Japan’s Post-K Computer Hits 1-2 Year Speed Bump). In any case, delivering on its SPARC roadmap may reassure the SPARC camp, including a large Oracle customer base, that Fujitsu isn’t planning to walk away from them.

Fujitsu M12 Servers

Akira Kabemoto, Fujitsu senior vice president, is quoted in the official release saying, “In addition to the Fujitsu SPARC M12, which is a result of close collaboration between Fujitsu and Oracle, Fujitsu will continue to develop cutting-edge technology that contributes to the creation of new value and supports customers in expanding their businesses.”

The M12-2 and M12-2S replace the M10 top-of-the-line servers and are aimed primarily at enterprise applications. That said, Fujitsu also sees opportunity for the new offerings in deep learning applications, according to Lam.

It’s probably worth noting that SPARC technology is not widely used in traditional HPC today.

“The HPC industry was at one point dominated by RISC processors, but x86 took over in the Beowulf cluster revolution. IBM POWER is the most noteworthy RISC processor still in the market, followed by SPARC systems from Fujitsu. Most of the original volume of SPARC came from Sun Microsystems, but Oracle (which acquired Sun) rarely sells HPC systems. With a new SPARC server, Fujitsu can continue to serve its existing customer base, but it is difficult to recapture market share from x86. IBM has at least addressed one major hurdle by making POWER “endian” compatible with x86 in data handling, which makes the migration easier,” noted Addison Snell, CEO, Intersect360 Research

Given the blurring of lines between traditional HPC and data-driven computing with deep learning as a centerpiece, perhaps SPARC may find room to grow amid a frothy landscape of alternative processors all seeking inroads.

Among improvements to the new servers are increased clock rates – 4.25 GHz in the M12-2S and 3.9GHz in the M12-2 – which contribute to performance gains of up to 2.5X over the M10 servers according to Lam. Combined with SPARC64’s flexible core activation the higher performance should allow reduced software licensing costs and time-to-solution. With core-level CPU activation, a minimum of just two processor cores must be activated initially. Core resources can be gradually expanded, as needed, in increments of a single core using activation keys. Benchmarks supporting Fujitsu’s “World’s highest performing core” claim are shown at the end of the article.

The M12-2S is positioned as a highly scalable platform while the M12-2S as a mid-range server. Both have core-based CPU activation, the hybrid cooling system, and Fujitsu’s Software-on-Chip instructions designed to enhance any applications such as encryption and data base acceleration Here’s a brief snapshot:

  • M12-2S. Up to 32 12-core, 4.25 GHz SPARC64 XII processors for a total of 384 cores and 3,072 threads. Main memory configurations range from 64 GB to 32 TB and support mixed DIMM capacities. Fujitsu says the M12-2S offers, “superior performance for mission-critical enterprise workloads and cloud computing. Employing proven Fujitsu supercomputer technology for highly parallel computing and an innovative cooling technology to achieve low latency access time between memory and CPU, the Fujitsu SPARC M12 servers can process large amounts of data in a short period of time.” Summary data sheet shown below.
  • M12-2. It is available in single- and dual-processor configurations that can scale to 24 cores and 192 threads. Flexible main memory configurations range from 64 GB to 2 TB and supporting mixed DIMM capacities. The server is a 4U form factor. Fujitsu says, “It is an ideal server for traditional enterprise-class workloads such as online transaction processing (OLTP), business intelligence and data warehousing (BIDW), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and customer relationship management (CRM), as well as new environments in cloud computing or big data processing.”


The enhanced M12 cooling system is called Vapor Liquid and Loop Cooling (or VLLC for short). It is twice as effective as the earlier liquid only system used on the M10. Think of the new system as a two chamber approach, explained Lam. The liquid flows through one, but a fraction is allowed to seep out into a second chamber where it vaporizes absorbing more heat before being returned to the main flow.

“The system’s liquid is essentially water, which is the same base liquid used in the M10. The difference in the M12 is the inclusion of a pressurized VLLC chamber which has a lower air pressure. So while water normally vaporizes at 100 degree Celsius (212 degree Fahrenheit), in the VLLC the water is able to vaporize at a much lower temperature (e.g., 50 degrees C) due to the lower air pressure,” said Lam.

“Water in the VLLC (M12) is vaporized by the heat of CPU because the air pressure in the VLLC chamber is low, whereas in the M10 there isn’t this pressurized chamber, hence the much higher boiling point of the liquid.” It a little hard to visualize but the result, said Lam, is a 2X efficiency improvement.

Both systems are available now. Pricing depends on the configuration. Lam said a base configuration of the M12-2 systems would be in the $35,000 range.

CPU Core Performance Benchmark

  • Comparison based on registered results per core in the SPECint_rate2006 and SPECfp_rate2006 benchmark tests.
  • SPECint_rate2006 performance results and measurement environment: Fujitsu SPARC M12-2S Performance result (peak): 102 per CPU core Measurement environment: SPARC64 XII (4.25GHz) x1 core, Oracle Solaris 11.3, Version 12.6 of Oracle Developer Studio
  • SPECfp_rate2006 performance results and measurement environment: Fujitsu SPARC M12-2S Performance result (peak): 102 per CPU core Measurement environment: SPARC64 XII (4.25GHz) x1 core, Oracle Solaris 11.3, Version 12.6 of Oracle Developer Studio
  • These performance results were submitted to SPEC (The Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation) on April 3, 2017.

Link to the Fujitsu press release: http://www.fujitsu.com/global/about/resources/news/press-releases/2017/0404-01.html

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!

HPC Iron, Soft, Data, People – It Takes an Ecosystem!

December 11, 2017

Cutting edge advanced computing hardware (aka big iron) does not stand by itself. These computers are the pinnacle of a myriad of technologies that must be carefully woven together by people to create the computational c Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit and Sierra. The new AC922 server pairs two Power9 CPUs with f Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

PEZY President Arrested, Charged with Fraud

December 6, 2017

The head of Japanese supercomputing firm PEZY Computing was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of defrauding a government institution of 431 million yen (~$3.8 million). According to reports in the Japanese press, PEZY founde Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Explore the Origins of Space with COSMOS and Memory-Driven Computing

From the formation of black holes to the origins of space, data is the key to unlocking the secrets of the early universe. Read more…

Azure Debuts AMD EPYC Instances for Storage Optimized Workloads

December 5, 2017

AMD’s return to the data center received a boost today when Microsoft Azure announced introduction of instances based on AMD’s EPYC microprocessors. The new instances – Lv2-Series of Virtual Machine – use the EPY Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Iron, Soft, Data, People – It Takes an Ecosystem!

December 11, 2017

Cutting edge advanced computing hardware (aka big iron) does not stand by itself. These computers are the pinnacle of a myriad of technologies that must be care Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Microsoft Spins Cycle Computing into Core Azure Product

December 5, 2017

Last August, cloud giant Microsoft acquired HPC cloud orchestration pioneer Cycle Computing. Since then the focus has been on integrating Cycle’s organization Read more…

By John Russell

GlobalFoundries, Ayar Labs Team Up to Commercialize Optical I/O

December 4, 2017

GlobalFoundries (GF) and Ayar Labs, a startup focused on using light, instead of electricity, to transfer data between chips, today announced they've entered in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE In-Memory Platform Comes to COSMOS

November 30, 2017

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is on a mission to accelerate space research. In August, it sent the first commercial-off-the-shelf HPC system into space for testing Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SC17 Cluster Competition: Who Won and Why? Results Analyzed and Over-Analyzed

November 28, 2017

Everyone by now knows that Nanyang Technological University of Singapore (NTU) took home the highest LINPACK Award and the Overall Championship from the recently concluded SC17 Student Cluster Competition. We also already know how the teams did in the Highest LINPACK and Highest HPCG competitions, with Nanyang grabbing bragging rights for both benchmarks. Read more…

By Dan Olds

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC thinking of booth visitors. Attendees of tutorials, workshops and other technical sessions will be inundated with requests for feedback. Read more…

By Andrew Jones

SC Bids Farewell to Denver, Heads to Dallas for 30th Anniversary

November 17, 2017

After a jam-packed four-day expo and intensive six-day technical program, SC17 has wrapped up another successful event that brought together nearly 13,000 visit Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Coalesces Plans for First Exascale Supercomputer: Aurora in 2021

September 27, 2017

At the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) meeting, in Arlington, Va., yesterday (Sept. 26), it was revealed that the "Aurora" supercompute Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

NERSC Scales Scientific Deep Learning to 15 Petaflops

August 28, 2017

A collaborative effort between Intel, NERSC and Stanford has delivered the first 15-petaflops deep learning software running on HPC platforms and is, according Read more…

By Rob Farber

Oracle Layoffs Reportedly Hit SPARC and Solaris Hard

September 7, 2017

Oracle’s latest layoffs have many wondering if this is the end of the line for the SPARC processor and Solaris OS development. As reported by multiple sources Read more…

By John Russell

AMD Showcases Growing Portfolio of EPYC and Radeon-based Systems at SC17

November 13, 2017

AMD’s charge back into HPC and the datacenter is on full display at SC17. Having launched the EPYC processor line in June along with its MI25 GPU the focus he Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Japan Unveils Quantum Neural Network

November 22, 2017

The U.S. and China are leading the race toward productive quantum computing, but it's early enough that ultimate leadership is still something of an open questi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

GlobalFoundries Puts Wind in AMD’s Sails with 12nm FinFET

September 24, 2017

From its annual tech conference last week (Sept. 20), where GlobalFoundries welcomed more than 600 semiconductor professionals (reaching the Santa Clara venue Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Releases Deeplearn.js to Further Democratize Machine Learning

August 17, 2017

Spreading the use of machine learning tools is one of the goals of Google’s PAIR (People + AI Research) initiative, which was introduced in early July. Last w Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

Amazon Debuts New AMD-based GPU Instances for Graphics Acceleration

September 12, 2017

Last week Amazon Web Services (AWS) streaming service, AppStream 2.0, introduced a new GPU instance called Graphics Design intended to accelerate graphics. The Read more…

By John Russell

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC thinking of booth visitors. Attendees of tutorials, workshops and other technical sessions will be inundated with requests for feedback. Read more…

By Andrew Jones

EU Funds 20 Million Euro ARM+FPGA Exascale Project

September 7, 2017

At the Barcelona Supercomputer Centre on Wednesday (Sept. 6), 16 partners gathered to launch the EuroEXA project, which invests €20 million over three-and-a-half years into exascale-focused research and development. Led by the Horizon 2020 program, EuroEXA picks up the banner of a triad of partner projects — ExaNeSt, EcoScale and ExaNoDe — building on their work... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Delays, Smoke, Records & Markets – A Candid Conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro

October 5, 2017

Earlier this month, Tom Tabor, publisher of HPCwire and I had a very personal conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro. Cray has been on something of a Cinderell Read more…

By Tiffany Trader & Tom Tabor

Tensors Come of Age: Why the AI Revolution Will Help HPC

November 13, 2017

Thirty years ago, parallel computing was coming of age. A bitter battle began between stalwart vector computing supporters and advocates of various approaches to parallel computing. IBM skeptic Alan Karp, reacting to announcements of nCUBE’s 1024-microprocessor system and Thinking Machines’ 65,536-element array, made a public $100 wager that no one could get a parallel speedup of over 200 on real HPC workloads. Read more…

By John Gustafson & Lenore Mullin

Flipping the Flops and Reading the Top500 Tea Leaves

November 13, 2017

The 50th edition of the Top500 list, the biannual publication of the world’s fastest supercomputers based on public Linpack benchmarking results, was released Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Launches Software Tools to Ease FPGA Programming

September 5, 2017

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) have a reputation for being difficult to program, requiring expertise in specialty languages, like Verilog or VHDL. Easin Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Chips – A Veritable Smorgasbord?

October 10, 2017

For the first time since AMD's ill-fated launch of Bulldozer the answer to the question, 'Which CPU will be in my next HPC system?' doesn't have to be 'Whichever variety of Intel Xeon E5 they are selling when we procure'. Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

Share This