The competition between the US, China, and Japan to field the first exascale supercomputer looks a lot closer than it did a couple of years ago. But the real significance of the narrowing schedules reflects a shift in technology preferences and a trend toward domestic control of HPC hardware.
The European Processor Initiative (EPI), an ambitious program to develop a pair of chips for domestic supercomputers, is poised to change the way Europe does HPC. And although the work is still very much in its early stages, it looks like the Europeans have selected their preferred processor architectures: Arm and RISC-V.
Researchers at the Great Western 4 (GW4) Alliance have benchmarked the Cavium ThunderX2 processor that will soon power the Isambard supercomputer. But the most significant advantage of the Arm processor may have nothing to do with performance numbers.