Nvidia unveils CPU for giant-scale AI and HPC

Nvidia unveils CPU for giant-scale AI and HPC

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Chipmaker Nvidia has announced its first data center CPU, an Arm-based processor that it says will deliver 10x the performance of today’s fastest servers on the most complex artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing workloads.
By Rich Pell

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The NVIDIA Grace CPU is designed to address the computing requirements for the most advanced applications – including natural language processing, recommender systems, and AI supercomputing – that analyze enormous datasets requiring both ultra-fast compute performance and massive memory. It combines energy-efficient Arm CPU cores with an innovative low-power memory subsystem to deliver high performance with great efficiency, says the company.

“Leading-edge AI and data science are pushing today’s computer architecture beyond its limits – processing unthinkable amounts of data,” says Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA. “Using licensed Arm IP, NVIDIA has designed Grace as a CPU specifically for giant-scale AI and HPC. Coupled with the GPU and DPU, Grace gives us the third foundational technology for computing, and the ability to re-architect the data center to advance AI. NVIDIA is now a three-chip company.”

Grace is a highly specialized processor targeting workloads such as training next-generation NLP models that have more than 1 trillion parameters. When tightly coupled with NVIDIA GPUs, a Grace CPU-based system will deliver 10x faster performance than today’s state-of-the-art NVIDIA DGX-based systems, which run on x86 CPUs.

Underlying the processor’s performance is fourth-generation NVIDIA NVLink interconnect technology, which is claimed to provide a record 900 GB/s connection between Grace and NVIDIA GPUs to enable 30x higher aggregate bandwidth compared to today’s leading servers. Grace will also utilize an innovative LPDDR5x memory subsystem that will deliver twice the bandwidth and 10x better energy efficiency compared with DDR4 memory. In addition, the new architecture provides unified cache coherence with a single memory address space, combining system and HBM GPU memory to simplify programmability.

While the vast majority of data centers are expected to be served by existing CPUs, says the company, Grace – named for Grace Hopper, the U.S. computer-programming pioneer – will serve a niche segment of computing. The Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory are the first to announce plans to build Grace-powered supercomputers in support of national scientific research efforts.

Thom Mason, director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory says, “With an innovative balance of memory bandwidth and capacity, this next-generation system will shape our institution’s computing strategy. Thanks to NVIDIA’s new Grace CPU, we’ll be able to deliver advanced scientific research using high-fidelity 3D simulations and analytics with datasets that are larger than previously possible.”

Grace will be supported by the NVIDIA HPC software development kit and the full suite of CUDA and CUDA-X libraries, which accelerate more than 2,000 GPU applications. Availability is expected in the beginning of 2023.

Nvidia

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