The first RISC-V supercomputer prototype was tested

The first RISC-V supercomputer prototype was tested

A group of researchers from the University of Bologna and Cineca carried out some analyzes on an eight-node, 32-core RISC-V supercomputer cluster, highlighting how the SiFive Freedom U740 SoCs can run supercomputing applications with relatively low power consumption. The RISC-V open-source architecture allows for a very competitive balance between performance, consumption and costs, making it suitable for various types of workloads, even for high performance computing (HPC).

The Monte Cimone cluster was used for the surveys, consisting of four dual-board blades in a 1U form factor and built by E4, an Italian HPC company. The 1U machines employ two SiFive HiFive Unmatched developer motherboards equipped with the Freedom U740 multicore SoC, which integrates four 1.4GHz U74 cores and one S7 core with proprietary Mix + Match technology, as well as 2MB of L2 cache. In addition, each platform has 16GB of DDR4-1866 memory and a 1TB NVMe SSD.

The team of researchers ported NFS, LDAP and the SLURM job scheduler to RISC-V and subsequently he installed the ExaMon plugin dedicated to data sampling, a broker for the management of the transport layer and a database for archiving. Additionally, HPL and Stream benchmarks were run to measure GFLOPS performance and memory bandwidth.

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Regarding memory bandwidth, each node should provide approximately 14.928 GB / s using a DDR4-1866 module. However, it never exceeded 7,760 MB / s, which is certainly not a good result. The values ​​recorded by the upstream benchmark are even less impressive: a 4-thread workload only reached a bandwidth not exceeding 15.5% of the available peak, well below the results of other clusters. br>

As far as hardware is concerned, SiFive can build SoCs with up to 128 high-performance cores for data center and HPC workloads. As these products become more popular, it is hoped that developers will be encouraged to build software for the ISA RISC-V.