OCI Jumps into Arm with Instances and Aggressive Developer Program

By John Russell

May 25, 2021

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) today launched a multi-prong Arm initiative including instances (VM and bare metal) based on Ampere’s Altra microprocessor, and a three-tier Arm developer program seeking, among other things, to woo the huge base of mobile and IoT Arm-based developers to the cloud application space.

The announcements are being made at an Oracle Live (livestream) event which unambiguously promoted Arm: “The cloud was built on x86 processors, but the promise of Arm-based cloud computing—delivering linear scalability and price-performance advantages—is a future too bright to ignore. Oracle is committed to the growth of the Arm ecosystem for cloud computing and ensuring all customers are positioned to realize the benefits.”

Lately the proliferation of processors of all types (CPUs, GPUs, FPGAs, TPUs, specialized AI devices, etc.) has injected fresh energy into the processor landscape and cloud providers have played a key role in mainstreaming many options; AWS’s home-grown Graviton processor, based on Arm, is a good example. Widespread use of AMD’s Epyc x86 line, including by Oracle as far back as 2018, is another example.

The new Arm instances (OCI Ampere A1 Compute) are being offered at a penny per core hour, which Oracle says is the lowest in industry. OCI is offering flexible VM sizing from 1-to-80 OCPUs and 1-to-64 GB of memory per core or as a bare-metal service with 160 cores and 1 TB of memory. “Customers can deploy Arm-optimized applications on containers, bare metal servers, and virtual machines in the Oracle public cloud, or Dedicated Region Cloud@Customer, according to Oracle,” according to the official announcement.

In a pre-briefing with HPCwire, Bev Crair, SVP, OCI Compute, said “Ten years ago, I think the developer ecosystem wasn’t there. The tools weren’t there, [and] it was a little too scary. Now we’re seeing an inflection point in industry, where the number of different architectures that are available, particularly with the advent of the GPU, and the role that the GPU plays in AI and ML are offering. Having a compute infrastructure that can play in that same space from an AI ML perspective – not necessarily competing with the GPU, but doing something different, and additive – is an important part of the set of solutions that we need to make available to our customer base.”

“If you look at what’s happened with developers, the number of developers who are working in Arm now on mobile and developing on Arm in IoT is very large. In some sense, [our Arm initiative] is in part aimed at getting access to that community, right and enabling that community to consider not just a mobile device or a mobile solution or mobile application, but a server-side, cloud-side application solution. It’s also what Ampere is delivering. That system has really predictable performance, on the single-threaded core design that we’re seeing. As you increase the number of cores you’re using, you get linear scalability that we don’t necessarily see across all of our other shapes. And performance characteristics in specific workloads also matter; some of our benchmarking [shows] 30 percent better performance on our A1 shape versus the same workload on any of our other shapes,” said Crair.

OCI touts its new Arm developer program saying it provides “developers with more choice in compute instances and the best price-performance, compared to any other x86 instance on a per core basis.” The three-tier offering includes:

  • Oracle Cloud Free Tier in which developers receive $300 in credits for 30 days.
  • Always Free Arm which provides access to four A1 cores and 24 GB memory for an unlimited time.
  • Arm Accelerator Program, which “provides open-source developers, ISV partners, customers and universities with Arm-based development projects that need more resources beyond what the Oracle Cloud Free Tier provides.” Developers must apply to this program to receive Oracle Cloud credits for a 12-month period.

Crair said, “We’ve created the new offerings not only to ensure that everyone has access to Arm, but also to make it easier for developers to get started on Arm on OCI. We’re building what we’re calling the Arm Accelerator Program, which provides users and developers who have an interest in moving the Arm ecosystem forward with the opportunity to come to us and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got this thing in mind, your free tier stuff doesn’t cut it completely because it’s more limited than I want and I’d like your help to do this for a longer period of time.”

In  preparation, Oracle has assembled a stack and set of tools in effort to attract Arm developers. Here’s a brief description excerpted from the announcement:

“Oracle’s development stack is available on Arm-based A1 instances, including Oracle Linux, Java, MySQL, GraalVM, and the Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes (OKE) service. To make it easy for developers to get started, Oracle created an Oracle Linux Cloud Developer image which enables customers to install, configure, and launch a development environment that includes OCI client tools, utilities, and common programming languages such as Java, GraalVM, Python, PHP, Node.js, Go and C/C++. The developer image is easily accessible and can be deployed from the OCI console.

“To help customers take advantage of the latest in Arm technology, Oracle is working closely with a wide variety of technology and open source partners, such as GitLab, Jenkins, Rancher, Datadog, OnSpecta, NGINX, and Genymobile. To help grow and enrich the Arm developer ecosystem, Oracle also announced that it is joining the Continuous Delivery Foundation (CDF), an open source, vendor-neutral community for sustaining the fastest growing CI/CD open source projects.”

Oracle is positioning the A1 instances for a variety of uses. Talking about HPC, Crair said, “We actually already have as part of our limited availability, a number of universities who are working HPC workloads on this environment, and doing the necessary work with us on tuning characteristics, to determine the places where this is going to work best.”

Simon McIntosh-Smith, head of the HPC Research Group, Department of Computer Science, University of Bristol is quoted in the announcement, “In our research, we need quick access to the latest computing technologies to help us solve complex scientific problems at breakneck speed. With Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, we have gained early access to the latest Arm-based Ampere A1 Compute to get the superior performance and power efficiencies needed to scale our high-performance computing workloads instantly. In terms of performance per dollar and in terms of cost, it gets even more compelling.”

(Overview: $0.01 per core per hour and $0.0015 per GB of RAM per hour. Ampere’s choice of using a single threaded core, plus sustained 3.0Ghz maximum frequency, results in linear scaling with respect to the cores. Ampere’s Altra processors can run all cores at the maximum frequency. In addition, the cores are completely isolated from the noisy neighbor impact of other workloads running on the same processor. Each core is single threaded by design with its own 64 KB L1 I-cache, 64 KB L1 D-cache and a huge one MB L2 D-cache.)

OCI describes A1 use cases as follows:

  • General Purpose: The OCI Ampere A1 Compute provides “superior price-performance for general purpose workloads, such as web servers, application servers and containers. These shapes offer balanced performance and an optimal price point for cloud-based scale-out workloads, such as NGINX and web applications.”
  • In-memory Caches and Databases: From databases to analytics, “Arm processors deliver predictable performance for databases, such as Redis and MySQL. Memory- heavy workloads and multithreaded applications, such as in-memory databases and key-value stores, experience superior performance.”
  • Mobile Application Development: “Ampere Altra’s high core count (up to 160) is ideal for the density and scale needed for mobile application development and testing. In addition, developing iOS or Android-based applications on the OCI Ampere A1 Compute eliminates the need for an emulator or nested virtualization, leading to superior performance.”
  • Computationally-intensive and Scientific Applications: Arm processors “provide the price-performance benefits that make it a commonly used platform for high- performance, compute-intensive and scientific applications such as AI/ML inferencing, media transcoding, and running HPC stacks like CFD, WRF, OPENFAM, GROMACS, BLAST, BeeGFS, and NAMD.”

Price-performance is clearly a dominant theme in Oracle’s early foray into Arm – not unlike the approach AMD took when reentering the datacenter and cloud server market. Nvidia, of course has also announced an Arm-based CPU (Grace). Crair declined to comment on whether or not Oracle, which was among the first hyperscalers to offer A100 (GPU) instances, planned new instances pairing Nvidia GPUs and Arm CPUs. We’ll see.

IDC was upbeat about the new Oracle offering. “As the Arm ecosystem continues to develop, the breadth of deployments and use cases will only continue to grow with it, enabling further adoption of Arm-based infrastructure. The A1 instance is a great first step for OCI towards bringing that future forward,” said Kuba Stolarski, research director, infrastructure systems, platforms and technologies group, IDC.

Oracle also provided a number of customer/partner testimonials in the official announcement (link below). The new offerings are availability starting today according to Crair.

Link to Oracle release: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/oracle-unlocks-power-of-arm-based-processors-at-one-cent-per-core-hour-expanding-ecosystem-and-speeding-app-development-301298868.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!

Intel Debuts ‘Infrastructure Processing Unit’ as Part of Broader XPU Strategy

June 15, 2021

To boost the performance of busy CPUs hosted by cloud service providers, Intel Corp. has launched a new line of Infrastructure Processing Units (IPUs) that take over some of a CPU’s overhead to let it do more processin Read more…

ISC Keynote: Glimpse into Microsoft’s View of the Quantum Computing Landscape

June 15, 2021

Looking for a dose of reality and realistic optimism about quantum computing? Matthias Troyer, Microsoft distinguished scientist, plans to do just that in his ISC2021 keynote in two weeks –  Quantum Computing: From Ac Read more…

Q&A with Google’s Bill Magro, an HPCwire Person to Watch in 2021

June 11, 2021

Last Fall Bill Magro joined Google as CTO of HPC, a newly created position, after two decades at Intel, where he was responsible for the company's HPC strategy. This interview was conducted by email at the beginning of A Read more…

A Carbon Crisis Looms Over Supercomputing. How Do We Stop It?

June 11, 2021

Supercomputing is extraordinarily power-hungry, with many of the top systems measuring their peak demand in the megawatts due to powerful processors and their correspondingly powerful cooling systems. As a result, these Read more…

Honeywell Quantum and Cambridge Quantum Plan to Merge; More to Follow?

June 10, 2021

Earlier this week, Honeywell announced plans to merge its quantum computing business, Honeywell Quantum Solutions (HQS), which focuses on trapped ion hardware, with the U.K.-based Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC), which Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Building highly-available HPC infrastructure on AWS

Reminder: You can learn a lot from AWS HPC engineers by subscribing to the HPC Tech Short YouTube channel, and following the AWS HPC Blog channel. Read more…

ISC21 Keynoter Xiaoxiang Zhu to Deliver a Bird’s-Eye View of a Changing World

June 10, 2021

ISC High Performance 2021 – once again virtual due to the ongoing pandemic – is swiftly approaching. In contrast to last year’s conference, which canceled its in-person component with a couple months’ notice, ISC Read more…

ISC Keynote: Glimpse into Microsoft’s View of the Quantum Computing Landscape

June 15, 2021

Looking for a dose of reality and realistic optimism about quantum computing? Matthias Troyer, Microsoft distinguished scientist, plans to do just that in his I Read more…

A Carbon Crisis Looms Over Supercomputing. How Do We Stop It?

June 11, 2021

Supercomputing is extraordinarily power-hungry, with many of the top systems measuring their peak demand in the megawatts due to powerful processors and their c Read more…

Honeywell Quantum and Cambridge Quantum Plan to Merge; More to Follow?

June 10, 2021

Earlier this week, Honeywell announced plans to merge its quantum computing business, Honeywell Quantum Solutions (HQS), which focuses on trapped ion hardware, Read more…

ISC21 Keynoter Xiaoxiang Zhu to Deliver a Bird’s-Eye View of a Changing World

June 10, 2021

ISC High Performance 2021 – once again virtual due to the ongoing pandemic – is swiftly approaching. In contrast to last year’s conference, which canceled Read more…

Xilinx Expands Versal Chip Family With 7 New Versal AI Edge Chips

June 10, 2021

FPGA chip vendor Xilinx has been busy over the last several years cranking out its Versal AI Core, Versal Premium and Versal Prime chip families to fill customer compute needs in the cloud, datacenters, networks and more. Now Xilinx is expanding its reach to the booming edge... Read more…

What is Thermodynamic Computing and Could It Become Important?

June 3, 2021

What, exactly, is thermodynamic computing? (Yes, we know everything obeys thermodynamic laws.) A trio of researchers from Microsoft, UC San Diego, and Georgia Tech have written an interesting viewpoint in the June issue... Read more…

AMD Introduces 3D Chiplets, Demos Vertical Cache on Zen 3 CPUs

June 2, 2021

At Computex 2021, held virtually this week, AMD showcased a new 3D chiplet architecture that will be used for future high-performance computing products set to Read more…

Nvidia Expands Its Certified Server Models, Unveils DGX SuperPod Subscriptions

June 2, 2021

Nvidia is busy this week at the virtual Computex 2021 Taipei technology show, announcing an expansion of its nascent Nvidia-certified server program, a range of Read more…

AMD Chipmaker TSMC to Use AMD Chips for Chipmaking

May 8, 2021

TSMC has tapped AMD to support its major manufacturing and R&D workloads. AMD will provide its Epyc Rome 7702P CPUs – with 64 cores operating at a base cl Read more…

Intel Launches 10nm ‘Ice Lake’ Datacenter CPU with Up to 40 Cores

April 6, 2021

The wait is over. Today Intel officially launched its 10nm datacenter CPU, the third-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor, codenamed Ice Lake. With up to 40 Read more…

Berkeley Lab Debuts Perlmutter, World’s Fastest AI Supercomputer

May 27, 2021

A ribbon-cutting ceremony held virtually at Berkeley Lab's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) today marked the official launch of Perlmutter – aka NERSC-9 – the GPU-accelerated supercomputer built by HPE in partnership with Nvidia and AMD. Read more…

Google Launches TPU v4 AI Chips

May 20, 2021

Google CEO Sundar Pichai spoke for only one minute and 42 seconds about the company’s latest TPU v4 Tensor Processing Units during his keynote at the Google I Read more…

CERN Is Betting Big on Exascale

April 1, 2021

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) involves 23 countries, 15,000 researchers, billions of dollars a year, and the biggest machine in the worl Read more…

Iran Gains HPC Capabilities with Launch of ‘Simorgh’ Supercomputer

May 18, 2021

Iran is said to be developing domestic supercomputing technology to advance the processing of scientific, economic, political and military data, and to strengthen the nation’s position in the age of AI and big data. On Sunday, Iran unveiled the Simorgh supercomputer, which will deliver.... Read more…

HPE Launches Storage Line Loaded with IBM’s Spectrum Scale File System

April 6, 2021

HPE today launched a new family of storage solutions bundled with IBM’s Spectrum Scale Erasure Code Edition parallel file system (description below) and featu Read more…

Quantum Computer Start-up IonQ Plans IPO via SPAC

March 8, 2021

IonQ, a Maryland-based quantum computing start-up working with ion trap technology, plans to go public via a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) merger a Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

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…

AMD Launches Epyc ‘Milan’ with 19 SKUs for HPC, Enterprise and Hyperscale

March 15, 2021

At a virtual launch event held today (Monday), AMD revealed its third-generation Epyc “Milan” CPU lineup: a set of 19 SKUs -- including the flagship 64-core, 280-watt 7763 part --  aimed at HPC, enterprise and cloud workloads. Notably, the third-gen Epyc Milan chips achieve 19 percent... Read more…

Julia Update: Adoption Keeps Climbing; Is It a Python Challenger?

January 13, 2021

The rapid adoption of Julia, the open source, high level programing language with roots at MIT, shows no sign of slowing according to data from Julialang.org. I Read more…

Can Deep Learning Replace Numerical Weather Prediction?

March 3, 2021

Numerical weather prediction (NWP) is a mainstay of supercomputing. Some of the first applications of the first supercomputers dealt with climate modeling, and Read more…

Livermore’s El Capitan Supercomputer to Debut HPE ‘Rabbit’ Near Node Local Storage

February 18, 2021

A near node local storage innovation called Rabbit factored heavily into Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s decision to select Cray’s proposal for its CORAL-2 machine, the lab’s first exascale-class supercomputer, El Capitan. Details of this new storage technology were revealed... Read more…

GTC21: Nvidia Launches cuQuantum; Dips a Toe in Quantum Computing

April 13, 2021

Yesterday Nvidia officially dipped a toe into quantum computing with the launch of cuQuantum SDK, a development platform for simulating quantum circuits on GPU-accelerated systems. As Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang emphasized in his keynote, Nvidia doesn’t plan to build... Read more…

Microsoft to Provide World’s Most Powerful Weather & Climate Supercomputer for UK’s Met Office

April 22, 2021

More than 14 months ago, the UK government announced plans to invest £1.2 billion ($1.56 billion) into weather and climate supercomputing, including procuremen Read more…

African Supercomputing Center Inaugurates ‘Toubkal,’ Most Powerful Supercomputer on the Continent

February 25, 2021

Historically, Africa hasn’t exactly been synonymous with supercomputing. There are only a handful of supercomputers on the continent, with few ranking on the Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire