ARM-based prototype installed at BSC

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The Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) has deployed a new prototype cluster that combines energy-efficient ARM cores with a mobile GPU accelerator. Currently achieving five Gflops per Watt in Single Precision computation (0.8 Gflops/Watt in Double Precision), the prototype improves on current accelerator-based systems for GPU-centric applications. The cluster comprises 16 nodes of Quad-core Tegra3 SoC plus a Quadro 1000M mobile GPU connected through a Gigabit Ethernet network, and is based on the previous experience of the 256-node Tegra2 cluster deployed in 2011.

Co-funded by the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) initiative, the prototype will be located on the BSC premises and will be used to develop the system software stack on this new type of architecture, perform scalability tests on a moderate number of computer nodes, and evaluate how BSC’s OmpSs programming model mitigates the impact of limited memory and bandwidth from using low-end components. These prototypes accelerate the software development, and help computer architects investigate different hardware possibilities and programming paradigms towards the future design of energy-efficient supercomputers.

PRACE is exploring a set of prototypes to test and evaluate promising new technologies for future multi-Pflops systems. In this context, some pre-production prototypes have already been installed at HPC centres of PRACE partners such as France (GENCI), Sweden (SNIC) and Ireland (ICHEC), among others. A common goal of all prototypes is to evaluate energy efficiency to estimate the suitability of those components for future high-end systems.