For this project, the Hartree Centre is researching the challenges of power consumption in computing and the performance effects of scale-out versus scale-up systems given a defined power budget. Hartree will also be developing software intellectual property and defining best practices regarding ARM-based server deployments. While ARM technology has shown promise, the biggest hurdle to overcome is the build-out of an ecosystem to support a production environment.
"This is a fantastic opportunity to meet the challenge of developing a computationally powerful and energy-efficient platform based on the 64-bit ARM v8 microprocessor", stated Neil Morgan, program manager, Energy Efficient computing, STFC Hartree Centre. "The Hartree centre will be actively developing a robust software ecosystem encompassing compilers, linkers, numerical libraries and tools - all of which are fundamental to the adoption of these types of technologies."
The explosion of data, new users and new uses of this data are placing huge burdens on IT, far outpacing budgets, available power, and space in the data centre. The benefits of highly targeted, workload-optimized server design will be evaluated in this project to address these challenges. The majority of today's servers are designed to be deployed across a wide-spectrum of workloads. This research effort will be focused initially on a narrow set of application environments with the goal of optimizing performance/watt and performance/cost for these select workloads.
As part of this collaboration, Lenovo is developing an ARM-based server prototype as an extension to their popular dense computing platform NeXtScale. Given its open and flexible design, NeXtScale solutions are used extensively by users of high-performance computing, Grid deployments, analytics workloads, and large-scale Cloud and virtualization infrastructures. The NeXtScale ARM server will be based on the Cavium ThunderX SoC (system on chip) which has a full range of capabilities built-in to help minimize cost and power consumption. The NeXtScale enclosure is designed to optimize density and performance while fitting in a standard 19-inch rack and can hold up to 12 ARM-based servers, delivering 1,152 cores while occupying only 6U of rack space.
"Open partnerships are critical to the future of IT", stated Makoto Ono, senior research staff member, Lenovo. "Lenovo is committed to driving innovation to improve the efficiency of computing and we are pleased to join forces with the STFC Hartree Centre and any other industry leader to tackle this challenge."