Saturday, November 26, 2011

The quest for a cloud using Many-Core processors

Just as we learned the cloud is SaaS, PaaS and IaaS, our minds were geared into the desktop / servers processors produced by Intel and AMD mostly. The many virtualization packages declared themselves cloud, in reality facilitated the management  of resources, but virtualization by itself does no management whatsoever.

In June 2011, Tilera unveiled the "Cloud Computing Processor"
TILE-Gx™ 3000 processor family specifically designed for today’s most common cloud computing applications. Co-developed with some of the world’s largest Internet brands, the TILE-Gx 3000 processors are optimized for cloud datacenters.
Although Tilera does not name these "world's largest Internet Brands", we know Facebook is one of them. The reference is  Facebook Sides With Tilera in The Server Architecture Debate. Quote
Low-power many-core processors are well suited to KV- store workloads with large amounts of data. Despite their low clock speeds, these architectures can perform on-par or better than comparably powered low-core-count x86 server processors. Our experiments show that a tuned version of Memcached on the 64-core Tilera TILEPro64 can yield at least 67% higher throughput than low-power x86 servers at comparable latency. When taking power and node integration into account as well, a TILEPro64-based S2Q server with 8 processors handles at least three times as many transactions per second per Watt as the x86-based servers with the same memory footprint.
 As this is not already mind boggling, Tilera and Adpateva have strikingly similar many core architectures able to reach 4096 cores per processor. Yes you read well. In about two years,  245  processors will create a 1 million cores cloud, with a power consumption at a fractions of the behemoth supercomputer today

Here is Adapteva Epiphany CPU














 And here is Tilera Tile-Gx CPU

They look quite similar, don't they? Quote
Tilera's iMesh™ on-chip network. Each tile is a complete full-featured processor, including integrated L1 and L2 cache and a non-blocking switch that connects the tile into the mesh. This means that each tile can independently run a full operating system, or multiple tiles taken together can run a multi-processing operating system like SMP Linux.
The primary markets for the Epiphany multicore architecture include:  (1) Smartphone applications such as real time facial recognition, speech recognition, translation, and augmented reality. (2) Next generation supercomputers requiring drastically better energy efficiency to allow systems to scale to exaflop computing levels. (3) Floating point acceleration in embedded systems based on field-programmable gate array architectures.

This is ambitious. Adapteva name comes from Hebrew and it To adapt to Nature This has both a poetic and visionary connotation.

This technology is great, but there is a revolution in the way we write applications. Zynga and Twitter are also attracted by Tilera architecture and hiring software engineers to make their apps optimized..

A lack of supporting ecosystem, applications and proven tools around Tilera are a challenge.Tilera must encourage and create a new breed of agile and smart multi-core programming experts  to facilitate  the mass adoption of Tilera.  Performance however requires a bridge to migrate from the mediocre X86 to many-core computers.

Soon, the cloud as we know it, will be history. So will be the virtualization software in it's present day incarnation. The cloud many-core may take over, which eventually may fit in one or two racks


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