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HPE’s Astra is the world’s largest ARM-based supercomputer

SAY HELLO to the largest ARM-based supercomputer courtesy of Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Astra.

Supercomputers are normally the territory of IBM’s Power9 processors and f**k tonnes of Nvidia Tesla GPUs, not where you’d expect to find ARM-based chipsets, which are more commonly found in smartphones.

But the Astra is HPE’s attempt to change things around with the supercomputer making use of Cavium ThunderX2 ARM processors.

These chips have a rather healthy 28 cores and offer eight memory channels which trumps the six found on many processors based on the x86 architecture, which underpins the likes of Intel and AMD CPUs.

And thanks to the power efficiency of the ARM processors, more of them can be packed into a machine, some 2,592 dual processor servers, in this case, bringing Astra’s core count to 145,000. All this means, when going at full whack, the Asta, according to HPE, can deliver 2.3 petaflops of performance.

While IBM’s Summit supercomputer can trounce Astra, given it rocks 200 petaflops of performance, HPE’s Astra is still one of the fastest supercomputers in the world. Such performance is a bit head spinning for people used to everyday computing, but the ability to crunch masses of calculations per second is ideal for solving some of the world’s most complicated problems, say finding cures for new diseases or modelling the eventual destruction of the world.

The Astra also represents a potential next step for HPE’s The Machine project, which embraces the idea of “memory-driven computing” whereby a computer has more direct access to large banks of memory to reduce the inefficiency of modern processors needing to interact with smaller pools of memory and push data back and forth between them.

The supercomputer makes use of “memory-centric designs” to support high-performance computing workloads alongside the masses of compute power in the Astra.

The Astra was created in collaboration with the Sandia National Laboratories and the US Department of Energy and will be put to use in the Vanguard program, which the National Nuclear Security Administration will use to run “advanced modelling and simulation workloads for addressing areas such as national security, energy and science”.

And apparently this work will tie in with how the US manages its stockpile of nukes; we just hope it’s bug-free as the last thing the US needs is an accidental nuclear war after its dealings with North Korea. µ

Source : Inquirer

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Founder and Editor-in-Chief of 'Professional Hackers India'. Technology Evangelist, Security Analyst, Cyber Security Expert, PHP Developer and Part time hacker.

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