Marvell Talks up ThunderX3 and Arm Server Roadmap

By John Russell

March 17, 2020

Marvell yesterday released more details about ThunderX3, its next-gen 7nm Arm-based microprocessor, codenamed “Triton,” which it says is now sampling and will be broadly available later in 2020. The new chip will feature up to 96 Arm v8.3+ cores and support 4 threads per core thus delivering up 384 threads per socket. While many details of ThunderX3’s architecture were not disclosed, Marvell says more information will be forthcoming over the next few months. Marvell also took the opportunity to issue a barrage of performance advantage claims over both Intel and AMD CPUs.

The recent rise of Arm CPUs in servers targeting HPC and the cloud is noteworthy. Arm has long been a force in embedded applications, leveraging its low power consumption attributes. Now, advancing chip features, available silicon, an emerging accelerator strategy, and a significantly expanded ecosystem are invigorating Arm’s server aspirations.

Gopal Hegde, Marvell

Marvell, through its acquisition of Cavium (announced 2016, completed 2018) is finally starting to enjoy growing success in servers with the ThunderX CPU line. ThunderX2, for example, is being used in high-profile supercomputing projects at Sandia Laboratory (Astra), Los Alamos National Laboratory, GW4 (the Met Office), and France’s CEA. In the cloud, Microsoft Azure now uses ThunderX2-based clusters for internal purposes and Marvell says it has deals with 20 other hyperscalers.

Of course Marvell isn’t alone. Fujitsu’s A64FX Arm CPU will power Japan’s “Fugaku” supercomputer to be deployed at RIKEN in 2021, and in November Cray (now HPE) announced a collaboration with Fujitsu to bring out A64FX-based systems.

All things considered, the Arm camp –  once thought of as a long shot in mainstream servers let alone high-end HPC – is making steady headway into server markets. In a pre-briefing on the forthcoming ThunderX3 with HPCwire, Gopal Hegde vice president and GM, server processors, Marvell, argued that now that the heavy lifting is done, Marvell’s Arm’s server chip design is inherently better than x86 architecture because it doesn’t need to support legacy architecture or so many diverse device types.

“Intel designed its cores for use in [systems] from laptops and desktops all the way to servers. It’s not optimized for servers. We have no x86 legacy, like 32-bit support and things like that,” said Hegde. “We are able to optimize our code, and our core area is significantly smaller [as a result]. Just to give you an idea, in the previous generation, if you look at ThunderX2, compared to AMD or Skylake, for the same process node technology [we get] roughly 20% to 25% smaller die area. That translates into lower power. When we move to 7nm with ThunderX3, our core compared to AMD Rome’s 7nm is roughly 30% smaller.”

The slides below summarize ThunderX3’s specs, Marvell’s general pitch for ThunderX in advanced computing, and its processor portfolio:

 

It may be useful to briefly describe Marvell. Founded in 1995, FY20 revenue was $2.7 billion. The company has roughly 5000 employees. Its roots are in storage technology, but the product portfolio and markets served have expanded over the years. Marvell now has three main businesses – processors, networking, and storage, and it bills itself as the largest supplier of Arm server chips.

“Cavium was in the processor business for almost 15 years. Marvell has been shipping Armada (low power SoC) for a similar amount of time. So together, we have shipped over hundreds of millions of CPUs over the years. These are multicore CPUs ranging from two cores all the way up to 48 cores are now, even higher (96-core ThunderX3) soon,” said Hegde

“Octeon and Octeon Fusion are products used in wireless 5G infrastructure. We announced design wins with Samsung and Nokia about a week ago. Octeon processors are [also] very widely used in the embedded market and constitute a pretty significant part of the 2.7 billion in revenue that we did last year. Today we exclusively develop Arm-based processor products,” he said.

The server-oriented ThunderX line targets HPC, the cloud, and as Marvell puts it, “Arm native applications at cloud and edge.” Hegde contends that Intel’s struggles with process and resulting low core counts have created an opportunity for making gains in single and multi-threaded performance, while AMD’s multi-die-on-a-chip, or chiplet, approach necessarily introduces latency. ThunderX3, said Hegde, is designed to exploit those.

Given small die area and the lack of legacy x86 overhead, contends Hegde, it is possible to leverage Arm architecture for lower power consumption, lower cost, and added functionality “into the same monolithic die.” This gives ThunderX3, he argues, improved instruction per cycle (IPC) performance, better thermal design power (DTP), and “really good memory latency and memory bandwidth. “If you look at the ThunderXs, from that standpoint, you get the best of both worlds. You don’t have to sacrifice core count like, x86 Intel, and you don’t have to sacrifice memory latency like AMD.”

It’s true ThunderX3 still doesn’t have Arm Scalable Vector Extension (SVE) which Fujitsu’s A64FX has. Hegde said “It is going to be available in a later processor. The challenge is that compilers needed to take advantage of SVP are still under development. So we’re actually pretty happy to be providing systems so that the compiler toolchain can evolve.”

Below are a few workload and performance comparison slides Hegde presented

Until the fairly recently, the state of the Arm ecosystem – tools, supported OSs, adapter cards, etc. – has been a source of concern among would-be Arm users. That does seem to be changing. One prominent example of change is Nvidia’s decision last summer to support Arm as its accelerator strategy emerged and firmed up.

Hegde noted, “When I started in 2014 [with Cavium], we had two partners. Over the last six years, we have built a very broad ecosystem of over 100 partners across commercial, open source, and industry standard partners. A lot of these are driven through contracts and contracts to platforms that are in the ecosystem. Today there are thousands of ThunderX and ThunderX2 platforms in the ecosystem today.

“Not only do we work with several OEMs and ODMs to deliver platforms, but also have full tools and full collaterals. Pretty much all the operating systems are supported on ThunderX today, ranging from, Red Hat, SuSe, Oracle Linux, to Microsoft Windows, VMware, and some of the free community-based operating systems like Centos, FreeBSD, all the way up to middleware. HPC has been a special area of focus for us. And the number of partners in that space has more than doubled over last 12 months, and of course, cloud and now also in the edge computing,” he said.

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!

NASA Uses Supercomputing to Measure Carbon in the World’s Trees

October 22, 2020

Trees constitute one of the world’s most important carbon sinks, pulling enormous amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing the carbon in their trunks and the surrounding soil. Measuring this carbon sto Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Nvidia Dominates (Again) Latest MLPerf Inference Results

October 22, 2020

The two-year-old AI benchmarking group MLPerf.org released its second set of inferencing results yesterday and again, as in the most recent MLPerf training results (July 2020), it was almost entirely The Nvidia Show, a p Read more…

By John Russell

With Optane Gaining, Intel Exits NAND Flash

October 21, 2020

In a sign that its 3D XPoint memory technology is gaining traction, Intel Corp. is departing the NAND flash memory and storage market with the sale of its manufacturing base in China to SK Hynix of South Korea. The $9 Read more…

By George Leopold

HPE, AMD and EuroHPC Partner for Pre-Exascale LUMI Supercomputer

October 21, 2020

Not even a week after Nvidia announced that it would be providing hardware for the first four of the eight planned EuroHPC systems, HPE and AMD are announcing another major EuroHPC design win. Finnish supercomputing cent Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPE to Build Australia’s Most Powerful Supercomputer for Pawsey

October 20, 2020

The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Perth, Western Australia, has had a busy year. Pawsey typically spends much of its time looking to the stars, working with a variety of observatories and astronomers – but when COVID Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AWS Solution Channel

Live Webinar: AWS & Intel Research Webinar Series – Fast scaling research workloads on the cloud

Date: 27 Oct – 5 Nov

Join us for the AWS and Intel Research Webinar series.

You will learn how we help researchers process complex workloads, quickly analyze massive data pipelines, store petabytes of data, and advance research using transformative technologies. Read more…

Intel® HPC + AI Pavilion

Berlin Institute of Health: Putting HPC to Work for the World

Researchers from the Center for Digital Health at the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) are using science to understand the pathophysiology of COVID-19, which can help to inform the development of targeted treatments. Read more…

DDN-Tintri Showcases Technology Integration with Two New Products

October 20, 2020

DDN, a long-time leader in HPC storage, announced two new products today and provided more detail around its strategy for integrating DDN HPC technologies with the enterprise strengths of its recent acquisitions, notably Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Dominates (Again) Latest MLPerf Inference Results

October 22, 2020

The two-year-old AI benchmarking group MLPerf.org released its second set of inferencing results yesterday and again, as in the most recent MLPerf training resu Read more…

By John Russell

HPE, AMD and EuroHPC Partner for Pre-Exascale LUMI Supercomputer

October 21, 2020

Not even a week after Nvidia announced that it would be providing hardware for the first four of the eight planned EuroHPC systems, HPE and AMD are announcing a Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPE to Build Australia’s Most Powerful Supercomputer for Pawsey

October 20, 2020

The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Perth, Western Australia, has had a busy year. Pawsey typically spends much of its time looking to the stars, working with a Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DDN-Tintri Showcases Technology Integration with Two New Products

October 20, 2020

DDN, a long-time leader in HPC storage, announced two new products today and provided more detail around its strategy for integrating DDN HPC technologies with Read more…

By John Russell

Is the Nvidia A100 GPU Performance Worth a Hardware Upgrade?

October 16, 2020

Over the last decade, accelerators have seen an increasing rate of adoption in high-performance computing (HPC) platforms, and in the June 2020 Top500 list, eig Read more…

By Hartwig Anzt, Ahmad Abdelfattah and Jack Dongarra

Nvidia and EuroHPC Team for Four Supercomputers, Including Massive ‘Leonardo’ System

October 15, 2020

The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU) serves as Europe’s concerted supercomputing play, currently comprising 32 member states and billions of euros in funding. I Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

ROI: Is HPC Worth It? What Can We Actually Measure?

October 15, 2020

HPC enables innovation and discovery. We all seem to agree on that. Is there a good way to quantify how much that’s worth? Thanks to a sponsored white pape Read more…

By Addison Snell, Intersect360 Research

Preparing for Exascale Science on Day 1

October 14, 2020

Science simulation, visualization, data, and learning applications will greatly benefit from the massive computational resources available with future exascal Read more…

By Linda Barney

Supercomputer-Powered Research Uncovers Signs of ‘Bradykinin Storm’ That May Explain COVID-19 Symptoms

July 28, 2020

Doctors and medical researchers have struggled to pinpoint – let alone explain – the deluge of symptoms induced by COVID-19 infections in patients, and what Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Nvidia Said to Be Close on Arm Deal

August 3, 2020

GPU leader Nvidia Corp. is in talks to buy U.K. chip designer Arm from parent company Softbank, according to several reports over the weekend. If consummated Read more…

By George Leopold

Intel’s 7nm Slip Raises Questions About Ponte Vecchio GPU, Aurora Supercomputer

July 30, 2020

During its second-quarter earnings call, Intel announced a one-year delay of its 7nm process technology, which it says it will create an approximate six-month shift for its CPU product timing relative to prior expectations. The primary issue is a defect mode in the 7nm process that resulted in yield degradation... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Hires Longtime Intel Exec Bill Magro to Lead HPC Strategy

September 18, 2020

In a sign of the times, another prominent HPCer has made a move to a hyperscaler. Longtime Intel executive Bill Magro joined Google as chief technologist for hi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Keeps Cray Brand Promise, Reveals HPE Cray Supercomputing Line

August 4, 2020

The HPC community, ever-affectionate toward Cray and its eponymous founder, can breathe a (virtual) sigh of relief. The Cray brand will live on, encompassing th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

Aurora’s Troubles Move Frontier into Pole Exascale Position

October 1, 2020

Intel’s 7nm node delay has raised questions about the status of the Aurora supercomputer that was scheduled to be stood up at Argonne National Laboratory next year. Aurora was in the running to be the United States’ first exascale supercomputer although it was on a contemporaneous timeline with... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

European Commission Declares €8 Billion Investment in Supercomputing

September 18, 2020

Just under two years ago, the European Commission formalized the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU): a concerted HPC effort (comprising 32 participating states at c Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Is the Nvidia A100 GPU Performance Worth a Hardware Upgrade?

October 16, 2020

Over the last decade, accelerators have seen an increasing rate of adoption in high-performance computing (HPC) platforms, and in the June 2020 Top500 list, eig Read more…

By Hartwig Anzt, Ahmad Abdelfattah and Jack Dongarra

Nvidia and EuroHPC Team for Four Supercomputers, Including Massive ‘Leonardo’ System

October 15, 2020

The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU) serves as Europe’s concerted supercomputing play, currently comprising 32 member states and billions of euros in funding. I Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

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

Microsoft Azure Adds A100 GPU Instances for ‘Supercomputer-Class AI’ in the Cloud

August 19, 2020

Microsoft Azure continues to infuse its cloud platform with HPC- and AI-directed technologies. Today the cloud services purveyor announced a new virtual machine Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Powers Fugaku’s Storage, Scores IO500 Win

August 28, 2020

In June, RIKEN shook the supercomputing world with its Arm-based, Fujitsu-built juggernaut: Fugaku. The system, which weighs in at 415.5 Linpack petaflops, topp Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DOD Orders Two AI-Focused Supercomputers from Liqid

August 24, 2020

The U.S. Department of Defense is making a big investment in data analytics and AI computing with the procurement of two HPC systems that will provide the High Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Oracle Cloud Deepens HPC Embrace with Launch of A100 Instances, Plans for Arm, More 

September 22, 2020

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) continued its steady ramp-up of HPC capabilities today with a flurry of announcements. Topping the list is general availabilit Read more…

By John Russell

Joliot-Curie Supercomputer Used to Build First Full, High-Fidelity Aircraft Engine Simulation

July 14, 2020

When industrial designers plan the design of a new element of a vehicle’s propulsion or exterior, they typically use fluid dynamics to optimize airflow and in Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

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