Friday, 26th February 2021

Computer built for the era of Big Data

Prototype from The Machine research program upends 60 years of innovation and demonstrates the potential for Memory-Driven Computing.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s has introduced what it says is the world’s largest single-memory computer, the latest milestone in The Machine research project (The Machine). The Machine, which is the largest R&D program in the history of the company, is aimed at delivering a new paradigm called Memory-Driven Computing – an architecture custom-built for the Big Data era.
“The secrets to the next great scientific breakthrough, industry-changing innovation, or life-altering technology hide in plain sight behind the mountains of data we create every day,” said Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise. “To realize this promise, we can’t rely on the technologies of the past, we need a computer built for the Big Data era.”
The prototype unveiled today contains 160 terabytes (TB) of memory, capable of simultaneously working with the data held in every book in the Library of Congress five times over – or approximately 160 million books. It has never been possible to hold and manipulate whole data sets of this size in a single-memory system, and this is just a glimpse of the immense potential of Memory-Driven Computing.[i]
Scalability & Societal Implications
Based on the current prototype, HPE expects the architecture could easily scale to an exabyte-scale single-memory system and, beyond that, to a nearly-limitless pool of memory – 4,096 yottabytes. For context, that is 250,000 times the entire digital universe today.
With that amount of memory, it will be possible to simultaneously work with every digital health record of every person on earth; every piece of data from Facebook; every trip of Google’s autonomous vehicles; and every data set from space exploration all at the same time – getting to answers and uncovering new opportunities at unprecedented speeds.
“We believe Memory-Driven Computing is the solution to move the technology industry forward in a way that can enable advancements across all aspects of society,” said Mark Potter, CTO at HPE and Director, Hewlett Packard Labs. “The architecture we have unveiled can be applied to every computing category – from intelligent edge devices to supercomputers.”
Memory-Driven Computing puts memory, not the processor, at the center of the computing architecture. By eliminating the inefficiencies of how memory, storage and processors interact in traditional systems today, Memory-Driven Computing reduces the time needed to process complex problems from days to hours, hours to minutes, minutes to seconds – to deliver real-time intelligence.
Technical Specifications
The new prototype builds on the achievements of The Machine research program, including:
·160 TB of shared memory spread across 40 physical nodes, interconnected using a high-performance fabric protocol
·An optimized Linux-based operating system (OS) running on ThunderX2, Cavium’s flagship second generation dual socket capable ARMv8-A workload optimized System on a Chip.
·Photonics/Optical communication links, including the new X1 photonics module, are online and operational; and
·Software programming tools designed to take advantage of abundant persistent memory.
“Cavium shares HPE’s vision for Memory-Driven Computing and is proud to collaborate with HPE on The Machine program,” said Syed Ali, President & CEO of Cavium Inc. ”HPE’s groundbreaking innovations in Memory-Driven Computing will enable a new compute paradigm for a variety of applications, including the next generation data center, cloud and high performance computing.”
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