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European Program to Develop Supercomputing Chips Begins to Take Shape

July 5, 2018


The choice of Arm certainly makes sense, given its European roots in the UK, and its commercial licensing scheme. Anyone can buy an Arm license and develop a processor of their own design, something not possible with Intel, AMD, or NVIDIA technology. In some ways, RISC-V is even more attractive, since it’s offered as an open standard architecture that can be had at no cost under a BSD license, either for developing free implementations or proprietary designs.

It’s worth noting that the selection of Arm and RISC-V has not been officially announced. However, given inclination of some of the major European players — the long history of the Mont-Blanc exascale project with Arm (including its latest project to build an Arm-based SoC for exascale machines), BSC’s enthusiasm for RISC-V (it recently hosted the RISC-V Workshop), and Atos’s interest in both architectures — it’s hard to fathom any other choice. Of course, OpenPower and even MIPS are possibilities, but neither one has been the focus of any European HPC research. Coming up with a completely new processor architecture is the least likely option, given the timeframes for the pre-exascale and exascale deployments. […]

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