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:

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!

U.S. CTO Michael Kratsios Adds DoD Research & Engineering Title

July 13, 2020

Michael Kratsios, the U.S. Chief Technology Officer, has been appointed acting Undersecretary of Defense for research and engineering. He replaces Mike Griffin, who along with his deputy Lis Porter, stepped down last wee Read more…

By John Russell

Supercomputer Research Reveals Star Cluster Born Outside Our Galaxy

July 11, 2020

The Milky Way is our galactic home, containing our solar system and continuing into a giant band of densely packed stars that stretches across clear night skies around the world – but, it turns out, not all of those st Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Max Planck Society Begins Installation of Liquid-Cooled Supercomputer from Lenovo

July 9, 2020

Lenovo announced today that it is supplying a new high performance computer to the Max Planck Society, one of Germany's premier research organizations. Comprised of Intel Xeon processors and Nvidia A100 GPUs, and featuri Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Xilinx Announces First Adaptive Computing Challenge

July 9, 2020

A new contest is challenging the computing world. Xilinx has announced the first Xilinx Adaptive Computing Challenge, a competition that will task developers and startups with finding creative workload acceleration solutions. Xilinx is running the Adaptive Computing Challenge in partnership with, a developing community... Read more…

By Staff report

Reviving Moore’s Law? LBNL Researchers See Promise in Heterostructure Oxides

July 9, 2020

The reality of Moore’s law’s decline is no longer doubted for good empirical reasons. That said, never say never. Recent work by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers suggests heterostructure oxides may b Read more…

By John Russell

AWS Solution Channel

Best Practices for Running Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Workloads on AWS

The scalable nature and variable demand of CFD workloads makes them well-suited for a cloud computing environment. Many of the AWS instance types, such as the compute family instance types, are designed to include support for this type of workload.  Read more…

Intel® HPC + AI Pavilion

Supercomputing the Pandemic: Scientific Community Tackles COVID-19 from Multiple Perspectives

Since their inception, supercomputers have taken on the biggest, most complex, and most data-intensive computing challenges—from confirming Einstein’s theories about gravitational waves to predicting the impacts of climate change. Read more…

President’s Council Targets AI, Quantum, STEM; Recommends Spending Growth

July 9, 2020

Last week the President Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) met (webinar) to review policy recommendations around three sub-committee reports: 1) Industries of the Future (IotF), chaired be Dario Gil (d Read more…

By John Russell

Max Planck Society Begins Installation of Liquid-Cooled Supercomputer from Lenovo

July 9, 2020

Lenovo announced today that it is supplying a new high performance computer to the Max Planck Society, one of Germany's premier research organizations. Comprise Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

President’s Council Targets AI, Quantum, STEM; Recommends Spending Growth

July 9, 2020

Last week the President Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) met (webinar) to review policy recommendations around three sub-committee reports: Read more…

By John Russell

Google Cloud Debuts 16-GPU Ampere A100 Instances

July 7, 2020

On the heels of the Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU launch in May, Google Cloud is announcing alpha availability of the A100 “Accelerator Optimized” VM A2 instance family on Google Compute Engine. The instances are powered by the HGX A100 16-GPU platform, which combines two HGX A100 8-GPU baseboards using... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Q&A: HLRS’s Bastian Koller Tackles HPC and Industry in Germany and Europe

July 6, 2020

In this exclusive interview for HPCwire – sadly not face to face – Steve Conway, senior advisor for Hyperion Research, talks with Dr.-Ing Bastian Koller about the state of HPC and its collaboration with Industry in Europe. Koller is a familiar figure in HPC. He is the managing director at High Performance Computing Center Stuttgart (HLRS) and also serves... Read more…

By Steve Conway, Hyperion

OpenPOWER Reboot – New Director, New Silicon Partners, Leveraging Linux Foundation Connections

July 2, 2020

Earlier this week the OpenPOWER Foundation announced the contribution of IBM’s A21 Power processor core design to the open source community. Roughly this time Read more…

By John Russell

Hyperion Forecast – Headwinds in 2020 Won’t Stifle Cloud HPC Adoption or Arm’s Rise

June 30, 2020

The semiannual taking of HPC’s pulse by Hyperion Research – late fall at SC and early summer at ISC – is a much-watched indicator of things come. This yea Read more…

By John Russell

Racism and HPC: a Special Podcast

June 29, 2020

Promoting greater diversity in HPC is a much-discussed goal and ostensibly a long-sought goal in HPC. Yet it seems clear HPC is far from achieving this goal. Re Read more…

Top500 Trends: Movement on Top, but Record Low Turnover

June 25, 2020

The 55th installment of the Top500 list saw strong activity in the leadership segment with four new systems in the top ten and a crowning achievement from the f Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Supercomputer Modeling Tests How COVID-19 Spreads in Grocery Stores

April 8, 2020

In the COVID-19 era, many people are treating simple activities like getting gas or groceries with caution as they try to heed social distancing mandates and protect their own health. Still, significant uncertainty surrounds the relative risk of different activities, and conflicting information is prevalent. A team of Finnish researchers set out to address some of these uncertainties by... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Turns Its Massive Crowdsourced Computer Network Against COVID-19

March 16, 2020

For gamers, fighting against a global crisis is usually pure fantasy – but now, it’s looking more like a reality. As supercomputers around the world spin up Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Simulations Reveal the Fate of the Neanderthals

May 25, 2020

For hundreds of thousands of years, neanderthals roamed the planet, eventually (almost 50,000 years ago) giving way to homo sapiens, which quickly became the do Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

Neocortex Will Be First-of-Its-Kind 800,000-Core AI Supercomputer

June 9, 2020

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC - a joint research organization of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh) has won a $5 million award Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Honeywell’s Big Bet on Trapped Ion Quantum Computing

April 7, 2020

Honeywell doesn’t spring to mind when thinking of quantum computing pioneers, but a decade ago the high-tech conglomerate better known for its control systems waded deliberately into the then calmer quantum computing (QC) waters. Fast forward to March when Honeywell announced plans to introduce an ion trap-based quantum computer whose ‘performance’ would... Read more…

By John Russell

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

By Doug Black

Leading Solution Providers


Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU: Up to 2.5X the HPC, 20X the AI

May 14, 2020

Nvidia's first Ampere-based graphics card, the A100 GPU, packs a whopping 54 billion transistors on 826mm2 of silicon, making it the world's largest seven-nanom Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

‘Billion Molecules Against COVID-19’ Challenge to Launch with Massive Supercomputing Support

April 22, 2020

Around the world, supercomputing centers have spun up and opened their doors for COVID-19 research in what may be the most unified supercomputing effort in hist Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Australian Researchers Break All-Time Internet Speed Record

May 26, 2020

If you’ve been stuck at home for the last few months, you’ve probably become more attuned to the quality (or lack thereof) of your internet connection. Even Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

15 Slides on Programming Aurora and Exascale Systems

May 7, 2020

Sometime in 2021, Aurora, the first planned U.S. exascale system, is scheduled to be fired up at Argonne National Laboratory. Cray (now HPE) and Intel are the k Read more…

By John Russell

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

TACC Supercomputers Run Simulations Illuminating COVID-19, DNA Replication

March 19, 2020

As supercomputers around the world spin up to combat the coronavirus, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) is announcing results that may help to illumina Read more…

By Staff report

$100B Plan Submitted for Massive Remake and Expansion of NSF

May 27, 2020

Legislation to reshape, expand - and rename - the National Science Foundation has been submitted in both the U.S. House and Senate. The proposal, which seems to Read more…

By John Russell

John Martinis Reportedly Leaves Google Quantum Effort

April 21, 2020

John Martinis, who led Google’s quantum computing effort since establishing its quantum hardware group in 2014, has left Google after being moved into an advi Read more…

By John Russell

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