IBM Ups Its Game with the Power9 Processor

IBM is looking to take a bigger slice out of Intel’s lucrative server business with Power9, the company’s latest and greatest processor for the datacenter. Scheduled for initial release in 2017, the Power9 promises more cores and a hefty performance boost compared to its Power8 predecessor. The new chip was described at the Hot Chips event, which took place in Silicon Valley this week.

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Chinese Chipmaker Unveils Speedy 64-Core ARM Processor

Phytium Technology has announced a 64-core ARM server CPU, which according to the press release will deliver 512 gigaflops of performance. The new chip, known as FT-2000/64, is aimed at “high throughput and high performance servers.”

Intel Paves the Way for Silicon Photonics with First Shipping Products

The goal of integrating lasers and semiconductors reached its commercial fruition this week as Intel announced it is shipping 100G silicon photonics transceivers to customers. The technology, which puts lasers onto a CMOS substrate, promises to bring down the costs and power of optical communications in the datacenter.

Optimism Abounds at AMD as Zen Flexes Its Performance Muscles

On Wednesday evening, just a stone’s throw away from where Intel was holding its developer forum in San Francisco, AMD was previewing its upcoming Zen CPU to an audience of analysts and reporters. Zen is AMD’s newest x86 microarchitecture, which is in line replace the older Bulldozer design. At the event, the company demonstrated an 8-core version of chip outrunning an Intel Broadwell CPU on Blender, a multi-threaded rendering application.

NVIDIA Rebuts Intel’s Claims of Superiority in Deep Learning

In a blog post by NVIDIA’s Ian Buck, the CUDA creator admonished Intel for some of the GPU-bashing the chipmaker engaged in when it launched Knights Landing at the ISC 2016 conference. During the event, Intel rolled out a number of deep learning performance results that cast the NVIDIA hardware in a bad light against its latest Xeon Phi processor. But as Buck pointed out, Intel invariably made those comparisons against older GPU technology.

NVIDIA Delivers DGX-1 “Supercomputer in a Box” to OpenAI

OpenAI, a non-profit research company devoted to advancing artificial intelligence, has become one of the proud owners of a DGX-1, NVIDIA’s so-called “supercomputer in a box,” a server specifically designed for machine learning work. The system, which was hand-delivered to the company’s headquarters in San Francisco by NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, will be used to run some of OpenAI’s most computationally challenging applications.

Watson Proving Better Than Doctors at Diagnosing Cancer

Did AI just save its first life? The University of Tokyo is reporting that Watson, IBM’s cognitive supercomputer, has correctly diagnosed a rare form of leukemia in a 60-year-old Japanese woman. Doctors turned to Watson after the patient failed to respond to drugs they were administering. After 10 minutes of crunching the data, the IBM machine correctly diagnosed her ailment and recommend the appropriate treatment.

Microsoft Adds High-Performance GPUs to Azure Cloud

Microsoft has added two of NVIDIA’s premier GPUs into its Azure public cloud offering.  According to a blog post by Azure Director of Program Management Cory Sanders, the company has created two new lines of virtual machine instances, one based on the Tesla K80, the other on the Tesla M60.

International Team Builds 20-GPU Server for Deep Learning

A server equipped with 20 overclocked NVIDIA K40 GPUs and intended for deep learning work, has been built by a team of developers from CoCoLink, a South Korean HPC provider, and Orange Silicon Valley, a California-based technology innovation group. According to the press release, the constructed prototype is capable of delivering 100 single precision teraflops and is “the world’s highest density deep learning supercomputer.” More News

In Depth

Supercomputing Gets a Shot in the ARM

The prospects for another serious rival to the x86 processor in the high performance computing space are looking much better this week after ARM Holdings presented the company’s plan to offer an HPC version of its 64-bit architecture. Known as ARMv8-A SVE, the design incorporates a technology known as the Scalable Vector Extension (SVE), which will provide a unique type of flexibility with regard to vector processing -- the basis of many scientific and engineering workloads.

Next-Generation 3D Memory in the Works

At the Hot Chips symposium taking place in Cupertino, California this week, Samsung and SK hynix touted their latest efforts for high bandwidth memory (HBM), including the third iteration of the technology, known as HBM3. This new version promises to double bandwidth and density, while taking more direct aim at the high performance computing market.

Intel Unveils Plans for Knights Mill, a Xeon Phi for Deep Learning

At the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) this week in San Francisco, Intel revealed it is working on a new Xeon Phi processor aimed at deep learning applications. Diane Bryant, executive VP and GM of Intel's Data Center Group, unveiled the new chip, known as Knights Mill, during her IDF keynote address on Wednesday.

Micron Unveils 3D XPoint Products, Samsung Counters with Z-SSD

The prospects for significantly faster solid-state storage for servers got a big boost this past week with Micron’s introduction of its QuantX-branded 3D XPoint memory-based SSDs and Samsung’s preview of its upcoming Z-SSD devices. According to the companies, their respective products will deliver much better performance than conventional NAND-based PCIe SSDs currently used in the datacenter. The announcements were made at the Flash Memory Summit, a three-day extravaganza of all things non-volatile.

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This Week in HPC

Knights Mill, Machine Learning and Silicon Photonics; News From the Intel Developer Forum

Addison Snell and Michael Feldman review the biggest HPC news of the week and the announcements coming out of the Intel Developer Forum.

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