Mont-Blanc Tests HPC Software Stack on E4 ThunderX Server

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Piero Altoe and Filippo Mantovani at ISC 2015

Piero Altoe and Filippo Mantovani at ISC 2015

Researchers from the Mont-Blanc Project report they have successfully tested an E4 Computer Engineering server platform based on the 64bit Cavium ThunderX ARMv8 chip. The aim of the test was to prove the portability of the Mont-Blanc system software stack on new high-performance ARM based server platforms.

We follow with interest the activity of E4 in developing ARM-based platforms since the early days,” said Filippo Mantovani, technical coordinator of the Mont-Blanc project and senior researcher at BSC. “We wanted to show that our HPC system software is able to run also on standard production machines and not only in the Mont-Blanc prototypes and we finally manage it.”

The E4 system was configured with an HPC software stack developed during the past three years within the Mont-Blanc project. The system underwent strict tests to verify its memory bandwidth, floating point performance and energy-efficiency. Using a set of benchmarks, the new 48-core Thunder-X provided by Cavium produced “extremely satisfactory” results and system stability.

E4 Computer Engineering specializes in the production and architectural integration of complete and customized solutions, for environments ranging from high performance computing to design of turn-key datacenters. E4 HPC customers include leaders such as CERN and ENEA, where they have delivered solutions for workloads ranging from processing data from CERN’s Large Hadron Collider to wave modeling in the Mediterranean Sea.

ThunderX ARMv8 SoCs are uniquely suited to drive performance for these systems, with 48 custom cores, high memory bandwidth and capacity, onboard workload accelerators and integrated network and storage capability. Focused on workloads such as high-energy physics and molecular dynamics, the ThunderX-based systems will deliver best-in-class performance combined with lower cost and power consumption than delivered by comparable systems.

E4’s mission is to deliver cutting-edge custom solutions for our customers,” said Piero Altoe, VP Research & Development, E4 Computer Engineering. “We wanted powerful and highly-scalable CPUs for our new ARKA servers, that deliver outstanding performance combined with reduced power consumption and we worked on that direction to meet BSC requests.”

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