Cavium Announces GA for ThunderX2; Touts OEM Support

By John Russell

May 7, 2018

Cavium today announced general availability of ThunderX2 – its second generation 64-bit Armv8-A SoC line of processor. Cavium is claiming superior price-performance versus Intel Skylake counterparts and assembled endorsements from several large systems makers including HPE, Cray, and Atos as well as from influential HPC users including Sandia National Labs and the UK’s GW4 Isambard project.

ThunderX2, of course, isn’t exactly new. When it was introduced in May 2016 as a follow-on to ThunderX, most systems builders were quite chary of saying much about their Arm development or evaluation plans for fear of irritating Intel. Point taken, noted Cavium at the time. “No one wants to annoy the 800-pound gorilla. Neither do we,” said Gopal Hegde, VP/GM, Data Center Processor Group, Cavium, to HPCwire at launch (see HPCwire Cavium Unveils ThunderX2 Plans, Reports ARM Traction is Growing).

Now, like AMD and IBM, Cavium is taking more direct and public aim at Intel’s dominance – which still is overwhelming – in trying to wrest market share away. Consider today’s announcement:

“The ThunderX2 family includes more than 40 different SKUs for both scale up and scale out applications, ranging from top bin 32 core 2.5GHz parts to 16-core 1.6GHz parts, mapping directly across Intel’s Xeon Skylake server CPUs from highest end Platinum to low end SKUs. With list prices for volume SKUs (32 core 2.2GHz and below) ranging from $1795 to $800, the ThunderX2 family offers 2-4X better performance per dollar compared to Xeon Skylake family of processors.” Nothing shy there.

 

In a HPCwire briefing before the announcement, Surya Hotha, product line marketing director, and Larry Wikelius, VP software ecosystems & solutions group, argued the market is now hungry for an x86 alternative. They contend the necessary ingredients – high performant silicon (ThunderX2), a robust Arm ecosystem of applications, tools, and key Linux distros support (Red Hat and SUSE) – are finally present.

At least one OEM, a long-time Arm collaborator, agrees. “Since the first Mont-Blanc project, our vision has been that Arm based CPUs would be a good alternative for high end servers and HPC in particular,” said Eric Eppe, global head of solution marketing and portfolio – HPC and Quantum at Atos. “The HPC community was waiting for it, BullSequana X1000 and ThunderX2’s augmented memory bandwidth are offering the best-in-class TCO for customers using memory-bound applications.”

The technical advantages being touted are memory bandwidth and capacity. Cavium has pulled together several benchmarks, some done internally and others by third parties, to demonstrate ThunderX2 strength.

Of particular interest to the HPC community are several benchmarks run by the GW4 Isambard project. Simon McIntosh-Smith, leader of the GW4 Isambard project and professor of high performance computing at the University of Bristol, is quoted in the announcement, “We are running a set of widely used HPC science codes on prototype ThunderX2 platforms, and we are seeing impressive performance out of the box, competitive with high end, latest generation server CPUs. We are looking forward to deploying our production scientific workloads on ThunderX2 based production platforms.”

 

 

It will be interesting to watch how the number of OEM/ODMs supporting Arm and Cavium (or other Arm silicon suppliers) changes. Bulleted here are most of the testimonial quotes assembled by Cavium for the announcement:

  • Atos. “We’ve been working on ThunderX2 since its inception, it is now ready for prime time and we are really excited by this great step towards delivering Arm-based HPC platforms to our customers,” said Agnès Boudot – VP HPC & Quantum, Atos. “We have a long term strategic engagement with Arm and Cavium, which will lead the way to our Exascale Program.”
  • Cray. Fred Kohout, senior vice president of products and chief marketing officer at Cray said, “[C]ray is the only system partner that has developed an enhanced programming environment and compilers specifically for the Cavium ThunderX2 Arm processor.”
  • HPE. “We are impressed with the customer response to our early deployments of HPE Apollo 70 servers utilizing Cavium’s ThunderX2 Arm processors,” said Bill Mannel, vice president and general manager of High Performance Computing and Artificial Intelligence at HPE. “The ThunderX2 processor provides excellent compute and memory performance that is critical for our HPE Apollo 70 customers and the applications they depend on.”
  • Microsoft. Leendert van Doorn, distinguished engineer, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Corp. said, “We congratulate Cavium on bringing a two-socket, highly competitive Arm server to the market that can address demanding workloads. We have contributed the design of the ThunderX2 motherboard for Microsoft’s Project Olympus specification to the Open Compute Project and we look forward to further optimizing our internal cloud services workloads for ThunderX2.”
  • Sandia. “Sandia has been actively testing a range of key codes and applications on ThunderX2 as part of our ASC Advanced Architecture Testbed project,” said Jim Laros, Principal Member of Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories. “Sandia’s experience with ThunderX2 to date has significantly accelerated our ability to expand our compute environment to support the Armv8 based system architecture along with optimized software solutions that are key to our research and development community.”

It’s probably worth noting that HPE isn’t a stranger to Arm and was enthusiastic at the launch (September 29, 2014) of its Proliant Moonshot Arm-based cartridge but very quiet about the product line when demand failed to materialize. At launch, then senior vice president and general manager, servers and networking, HP, Antonio Neri said, “Arm technology will change the dynamics of how enterprises build IT solutions to quickly address customer challenges. HP’s history, culture of innovation and proven leadership in server technology position us as the most qualified player to empower customers with greater choice in the server marketplace.”

It’s impossible to call all technology or market turns correctly but for the moment there seems to be more energy around diverse microprocessor offerings than in a long time and OEMs and ODMs seem less wary of bucking the status quo. Stay tuned.

ThunderX specs and features as reported by Cavium:  

“The ThunderX2 processor family is a single chip system on a chip (SoC). Key ThunderX2 features include:

  • Single chip system on a chip (SoC) server CPU
  • Core and socket level performance comparable to highest end Xeon Skylake Platinum CPUs
  • Second generation of full custom Cavium Arm core
    • Quad Issue, Fully Out of Order
    • Full SMT support – 1, 2, 4 threads per core
    • Up to 2.5 GHz in normal mode, up to 3 GHz in Turbo mode
    • 3X single thread performance compared to ThunderX®
  • Up to 32 cores per socket delivering > 2.5-3X socket level performance compared to ThunderX
  • Cache:
    • 32 KB L1 instruction and data cache, 256KB L2 per core
    • 32 MB distributed L3 cache
  • Advanced server class RAS features covering memory, CPU, cache, CCPI2 and PCIe interfaces
  • Advanced power management
    • On-chip management engine for dynamic voltage and frequency scaling across the chip
    • Full Turbo mode support
  • Single and dual socket configuration support using 2nd generation of Cavium Coherent Interconnect with > 2.5X coherent bandwidth compared to ThunderX
  • System Memory
    • 8 DDR4 memory controllers per socket
    • Dual DIMM per memory controller, for a total of 16 DIMMs per socket
    • Up to 4 TB of memory in dual socket configuration
    • 33% higher memory bandwidth and memory capacity compared to Xeon Skylake Platinum CPUs
  • Flexible IO:
    • Integrated 56 lanes of PCIe Gen3 interfaces, x1, x4, x8 and x16 support, 14 integrated PCIe controllers
    • Integrated SATAv3, GPIOs, USB interfaces
    • 16% higher IO bandwidth compared to Xeon Skylake Platinum CPUs”

Link to announcement: https://www.cavium.com/news/cavium-announces-thunderx2-general-availability

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!

RIKEN Post-K Supercomputer Named After Japan’s Tallest Peak

May 23, 2019

May 23 -- RIKEN President Hiroshi Matsumoto announced that the successor to the K computer will be named Fugaku, another name for Mount Fuji, which is the tallest mountain peak in Japan. Supercomputer Fugaku, developed b Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray’s Emerging Market & Technology Director Arti Garg Peers Around HPC/AI Corner

May 23, 2019

In her position as emerging market and technology director at Cray, Arti Garg doesn't just have a front-row seat to the future of computing, she plays an active role in making that future happen. Key to Garg's role is understanding how deep learning scientists are using state-of-the-art HPC infrastructures and figuring out how to push those limits further. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Combining Machine Learning and Supercomputing to Ferret out Phishing Attacks

May 23, 2019

The relentless ingenuity that drives cyber hacking is a global engine that knows no rest. Anyone with a laptop and run-of-the-mill computer smarts can buy or rent a phishing kit and start attacking – or it can be done Read more…

By Doug Black

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

Who’s Driving Your Car?

Delivering a fully autonomous driving (AD) vehicle remains a key priority for both manufacturers and technology firms (“firms”). However, passenger safety is now a top-of-mind concern due in great part, to fatalities resulting from driving tests over the past years. Read more…

TACC’s Upgraded Ranch Data Storage System Debuts New Features, Exabyte Potential

May 22, 2019

There's a joke attributed to comedian Steven Wright that goes, "You can't have everything. Where would you put it?" Users of advanced computing can likely relate to this. The exponential growth of data poses a steep challenge to efforts for its reliable storage. For over 12 years, the Ranch system at the Texas Advanced Computing Center... Read more…

By Jorge Salazar, TACC

Cray’s Emerging Market & Technology Director Arti Garg Peers Around HPC/AI Corner

May 23, 2019

In her position as emerging market and technology director at Cray, Arti Garg doesn't just have a front-row seat to the future of computing, she plays an active role in making that future happen. Key to Garg's role is understanding how deep learning scientists are using state-of-the-art HPC infrastructures and figuring out how to push those limits further. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Combining Machine Learning and Supercomputing to Ferret out Phishing Attacks

May 23, 2019

The relentless ingenuity that drives cyber hacking is a global engine that knows no rest. Anyone with a laptop and run-of-the-mill computer smarts can buy or re Read more…

By Doug Black

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

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

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

CCC Offers Draft 20-Year AI Roadmap; Seeks Comments

May 14, 2019

Artificial Intelligence in all its guises has captured much of the conversation in HPC and general computing today. The White House, DARPA, IARPA, and Departmen Read more…

By John Russell

Cascade Lake Shows Up to 84 Percent Gen-on-Gen Advantage on STAC Benchmarking

May 13, 2019

The Securities Technology Analysis Center (STAC) issued a report Friday comparing the performance of Intel's Cascade Lake processors with previous-gen Skylake u Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

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

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

ClusterVision in Bankruptcy, Fate Uncertain

February 13, 2019

ClusterVision, European HPC specialists that have built and installed over 20 Top500-ranked systems in their nearly 17-year history, appear to be in the midst o Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Reportedly in $6B Bid for Mellanox

January 30, 2019

The latest rumors and reports around an acquisition of Mellanox focus on Intel, which has reportedly offered a $6 billion bid for the high performance interconn Read more…

By Doug Black

Looking for Light Reading? NSF-backed ‘Comic Books’ Tackle Quantum Computing

January 28, 2019

Still baffled by quantum computing? How about turning to comic books (graphic novels for the well-read among you) for some clarity and a little humor on QC. The Read more…

By John Russell

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

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

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

Deep500: ETH Researchers Introduce New Deep Learning Benchmark for HPC

February 5, 2019

ETH researchers have developed a new deep learning benchmarking environment – Deep500 – they say is “the first distributed and reproducible benchmarking s Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Bets $2B Seeking 1000X AI Hardware Performance Boost

February 7, 2019

For now, AI systems are mostly machine learning-based and “narrow” – powerful as they are by today's standards, they're limited to performing a few, narro Read more…

By Doug Black

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

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

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

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

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

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