Home-grown Euro chipmaker SiPearl signs deal with HPE, Nvidia

Claims partnerships will drive development and adoption of exascale computing in Europe

European microprocessor designer SiPearl revealed deals with Nvidia and HPE today, saying they would up the development of high-performance compute (HPC) and exascale systems on the continent.

Announced to coincide with the ISC 2022 High Performance conference in Hamburg this week, the agreements see SiPearl working with two big dogs in the HPC market: HPE is the owner of supercomputing pioneer Cray and Nvidia is a leader in GPU acceleration.

With HPE, SiPearl said it is working to jointly develop a supercomputer platform that combines HPE's technology and SiPearl's upcoming Rhea processor. Rhea is an Arm-based chip with RISC-V controllers, planned to appear in next-generation exascale computers.

The partnership will expand heterogeneous computing options for supercomputing, according to SiPearl, and is intended to support and accelerate adoption of exascale systems in Europe.

It appears that the contributions from HPE will include high-performance networking with the Slingshot interconnect, plus a software compiler and programming stack that will be based on the HPE Cray Programming Environment.

Slingshot, which HPE inherited from Cray, is a high-performance network standard that is also compatible with Ethernet and features in many current supercomputers, including the Frontier system that has now claimed first place in the Top500 rankings.

The HPE Cray Programming Environment is a suite of development software comprising compilers, programming languages, scientific, mathematics, and I/O libraries, plus profiling and performance optimization tools.

The partnership is expected to deliver joint HPE and SiPearl solutions to HPE's Center of Excellence (CoE) in Grenoble, which has recently deployed a new AI supercomputer called Champollion.

"In addition to our recent investments in a new HPC factory in Czech Republic and an AI cluster, dedicated to research, in Grenoble, France, our partnership with SiPearl is another demonstration of HPE's ongoing commitment to support Europe's mission to deliver world-class supercomputing that extends its sovereignty and competitiveness on the global stage," HPE executive vice president for HPC & AI Justin Hotard said in a statement.

With Nvidia, SiPearl said it has entered into a "strategic collaboration agreement" for joint technical and business development that will combine their respective hardware and software solutions.

The two said they intend to develop a proxy platform for porting activities that will combine SiPearl's processors and Nvidia's GPUs. The work will also include joint efforts with other European research institutions on elements including simulation capabilities in open-source and research-oriented modeling tools.

Essentially, the partnership is about SiPearl and Nvidia agreeing to ensure that Nvidia's accelerated computing and networking portfolio will operate seamlessly with SiPearl's Rhea processor and future CPUs, as well as working to expand the Arm HPC ecosystem itself.

Nvidia doesn't just do GPUs, of course, as it acquired network specialist Mellanox for its InfiniBand and Ethernet tech in 2020.

Today's agreement between the companies was given the thumbs-up by some in the European HPC sector.

"It holds great potential for the European supercomputing space, the Arm ecosystem and accelerated computing," said Dr Thomas Lippert, head of the Jülich Supercomputing Centre in Germany.

Last year, SiPearl also announced a collaboration with Intel over the latter's Ponte Vecchio GPU technology, making Arm-based supercomputers with Intel GPUs possible. As part of that agreement, SiPearl said it would port and optimize Intel's oneAPI heterogeneous compute toolkit for the Rhea processor.

That announcement also implied that Ponte Vecchio would feature in the first European exascale supercomputer.

SiPearl itself was born out of the European Processor Initiative (EPI), aimed at developing a new generation of high-end European microprocessors.

The Rhea processor is set to be the first fruit of this, and is due to launch sometime before the end of this year. It is expected to comprise 72 of the Neoverse V1 (codenamed Zeus) 64-bit Arm cores, plus support for DDR5 or the high-performance HBM2E stacked memory technology. ®

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