NEC to sell the accelerator cards it puts into supercomputers – for about $11,000 a pop

2.45 TeraFLOPS number-munching PCIe card to be bolted into x86 servers


NEC will soon sell as a standalone item the PCIe accelerator cards it uses to power modest supercomputers.

The device is built around the tech giant's custom Vector Engine Processor, and NEC suggests it as a fine way to handle tasks such as weather forecasting, climate modelling, and fluid analysis.

NEC offers the chipset in five of its own machines that range from a tower server to the eight-host A511-64 super.

At the top end of the processor family is the Type 20: a 1.6GHz beast with 10 Vector cores, and 1.53TB/s of memory bandwidth. The manufacturer advances the Vector architecture as especially good at memory parallelization, by autoparallelization or OpenMP. Message Passing Interface (MPI) can be used to parallelize across multiple Vector engines.

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The Register’s sibling site The Next Platform took a deep dive into the architecture in 2017.

Now the biz will sell a PCIe variant, featuring eight Vector cores and 2.45 TFLOPS of performance, to other server makers. Specialist integrators such as America's Colfax International and Japan’s Visual Technology have signed up to sell the 200W card as part of their own HPC offerings.

NEC senior vice president Kazunori Sudo thinks there are customers to be had among smaller users.

"We have seen rapidly growing demand from SMEs for vector computing systems in the field of electromagnetic field analysis, computational chemistry and structural analysis for instance," he said earlier this month. NEC is therefore "identifying and developing partners" in Europe, North America, and the Asia Pacific to bring the cards to market.

Why integrators or buyers will be interested when GPU software ecosystems are burgeoning is unclear, but NEC clearly believes that its device’s grunt and smarts mean someone will find it a worthy investment. ®


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