M2DC Releases Microserver Appliances

By Jens Hagemeyer (UBI), Micha vor dem Berge (CHR), Ariel Oleksiak (PSNC), Joao Costa (XLAB)

July 9, 2019

The continuous acceleration in technological development (from advanced financial applications to DNA sequencing) provides society with new challenges in the computation of the required results. A new class of low-power TCO-optimized appliances with built-in efficiency and dependability enhancements is being developed at the EU level by the M2DC project to help address those challenges. The goal: ease of integration with a broad ecosystem of management software in a fully software-defined manner to enable optimization for a variety of future demanding applications in a cost-effective way. The final product, enabling four turnkey ready appliances, was released in June to the market during the main European HPC events – Teratec Forum and the ISC-HPC 2019.

M2DC platform highlights

Modular Microserver DataCentre (M2DC) investigates, develops and demonstrates a modular, highly-efficient, cost-optimized server architecture composed of heterogeneous microserver computing resources, able to be tailored to meet requirements from various application domains, such as image processing, cloud computing or high-performance computing. New technologies including advanced mobile devices, Internet of Things (IoT), 5G and machine learning, pose steadily increasing demands on the performance and energy efficiency of server platforms and datacenters.

Heterogeneous hyperscale datacenters target these challenges with a combination of highly scalable server platforms and integrated hardware accelerators, e.g., based on GPUs and reconfigurable hardware. Against this background, 13 companies, research institutes and universities collaborated in the H2020 project M2DC (Modular Microserver Data Centre) that is ending this July, focusing on the development of turnkey appliances, which can be easily configured, produced, installed and maintained. The basis for these appliances is the M2DC server, a modular, highly-efficient, cost-optimized server architecture, which integrates heterogeneous microservers and hardware accelerators.

M2DC enables customization and smooth adaptation to various types of applications, while advanced management strategies and system efficiency enhancements (SEE) are used to achieve high levels of energy efficiency, performance, security and reliability. The M2DC middleware provides a datacenter capable abstraction of the underlying heterogeneity of the server. This includes new microserver designs based on Armv8 64-bit processors and Intel Stratix 10 FGPAs. Baseline benchmarks [see chart below] show the potential of accelerators for the targeted applications. The system design includes an optimized middleware for the deployment of optimized appliances. The M2DC customer can also acquire a basic appliance that can be tuned to address a specific problem, or a custom appliance for its business or research needs.

The presented example shows results for residual neural network inference providing image classification. The computations were performed within TensorFlow and were benchmarked on different architectures, including multicore CPUs and GPUs. The application’s performance is measured in images classified per second, and energy efficiency is calculated as the number of images classified for energy unit. The evaluation is per one CPU or one GPU. The energy efficiency though is for the whole node. For GPU, this is the GPU and additionally the microserver the GPU is attached to. In case of the P40 and V100 this is the microserver with Xeon E-1505 v6 CPU. In the case of the K40, this is the microserver with Intel i7-4700EQ CPU.

The fully integrated platform designed for high performance computing – the HPC appliance — is up and running. The HPC appliance combines preconfigured hardware, middleware and software tools that allow the user to perform HPC computations from day one, without any configuration burden. The “plug & play” appliance was also designed to be flexible enough to be adapted to the various needs of end users. Moreover, the HPC appliance is optimized to save energy, rack space and minimize the total cost of ownership. Compared to regular off-the-shelf servers, the HPC appliance uses half of the energy and one-fifth of the rack space which overall results in 20 percent of savings after three years of use[1].

Final product release at ISC-HPC 2019 and Teratec 2019

This year the M2DC team released the final M2DC platform at the main European HPC industrial events happening both in June in Paris and Frankfurt, respectively. The team was exhibiting together with the project LEGaTO, a smart mirror using the M2DC platform, showcasing the M2DC hardware and demonstrating the software that optimizes the system (SEEs).

At the Teratec Forum, the M2DC team exhibited the final version of the platform’s chassis and demonstrated selected system efficiency enhancements. Besides the M2DC platform, we also presented a smart mirror using the platform, in the context of the ongoing liaison with LEGaTO towards edge computing. The M2DC technology was also demonstrated at the M2DC partner booth from CEA.

The M2DC was also part of this year’s edition of the ISC High Performance industrial exhibition and conference with a booth where we officially released the M2DC platform to the German and European market.

[1] The calculated total cost of ownership includes costs of hardware (servers and networking), migration, electricity and space in a data center. Tests were done using EULAG simulation workload running on CPUs.

 

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