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Jam 80 Cores, 768GB of RAM into E-ATX Case With This Tiny Board

Adlink
(Image credit: Adlink)

If you want to cram up to 80 Arm Neoverse cores into a surprisingly compact workstation, Adlink has you covered with a novel design that packs an incredible amount of compute and memory onto a small carrier board. The board then slots into a larger motherboard that fits inside standard E-ATX computer cases. 

The company has introduced one of the industry's first COM-HPC Server Type Size E Modules, using Ampere's Altra chip to build miniature systems with up to 80 Arm v8.2 64-bit cores. The platform is compliant with the COM-HPC standard and is intended for workstation, server and edge applications that require significant compute capabilities and low power consumption.  

Adlink's COM-HPC Ampere Altra Server Type Size E Module houses between 32 and 80 Arm Neoverse N1 cores, six memory channels supporting up to 768 GB of DDR4-3200 memory (using six DIMMs), and 64 PCIe 4.0 lanes.

The Ampere Altra Q80-28 SoC with 80 cores runs at 2.80 GHz and consumes around 175 Watts. Despite all that, the carrier board measures a diminutive 200×160 mm (7.87 x 6.3 inches), exhibiting spectacular compute density. You can then slot that carrier board into a larger motherboard that can fit inside E-ATX cases to create the Ava development system, as you can see in the picture and video below.

Adlink

(Image credit: Adlink)

Adlink positions its Altra-based Server Module for workstations and 'inexpensive' edge applications that require low maintenance costs. The board has rather decent connectivity features (which can be further expanded using PCIe devices), such as four 10GbE ports, one GbE connector for remote management, and four USB 3.0 ports. The motherboard is also ready to install standard AArch64 Ubuntu 20.04 as well as Yocto Linux operating systems.

“By teaming up with Ampere and Arm and using their Arm Neoverse N1-based Ampere Altra SoC, our high performance-per-watt COM-HPC Ampere Altra architecture allows our strategic partners and customers to process data intensive workloads at the edge without worrying about big upfront investments, hardware overheating, or ongoing maintenance costs,” says Alex Wang, Adlink’s product manager of embedded boards and modules.

In addition to the COM-HPC Ampere Altra module, Adlink has also released its COM-HPC Ampere Altra prototype system that is designed primarily for software developers interested in building products for Arm-based servers. The company hasn't shared pricing or availability information yet, but we'll update as more information becomes available. 

  • mikewinddale
    What's the purpose of making a module that plugs into a motherboard? Why not just make a normal motherboard?

    Does this facilitate upgrades? E.g., a new module that supports new CPUs and new RAM, but plugs into the old motherboard with the old PCIe cards?
    Reply
  • domih
    What's the purpose of making a module that plugs into a motherboard?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COM-HPC
    https://www.picmg.org/
    Not for the "regular" PC users. Think industrial/science workstations for instance.

    Costs $$$$$
    Reply
  • escksu
    mikewinddale said:
    What's the purpose of making a module that plugs into a motherboard? Why not just make a normal motherboard?

    Does this facilitate upgrades? E.g., a new module that supports new CPUs and new RAM, but plugs into the old motherboard with the old PCIe cards?

    Its not for end-user PCs. COM-HPC are mainly for industrial servers/embedded etc....

    I guess the whole idea is to have a carrier board + modules. This way you can have any carrier board and any module. There will be no such thing as Intel or AMD board since the chipset and socket resides on the module instead of the board. So, you can simply swap out the module for something else. We don't need it for home PCs but industrial or specialised machines will be quite useful. This concept of putting CPU on a separate card/module has been around for ages, but pple rarely know about them because they are not for home/office use.
    Reply
  • PapaCrazy
    mikewinddale said:
    What's the purpose of making a module that plugs into a motherboard? Why not just make a normal motherboard?

    Does this facilitate upgrades? E.g., a new module that supports new CPUs and new RAM, but plugs into the old motherboard with the old PCIe cards?

    This is being marketed as a development platform for ARM, so I think the goal is to have full access to an ARM server environment (not just virtualized, but hardware-based) within x86. If the goal was just to market an ARM server, I imagine they could have stuck the SOC within a tiny chassis and called it a day.

    Good question, not sure if this can be treated as a PCIe card, since they marketing the system as a whole there may be more involved to sync the soc with mainboard.
    Edit: Nevermind, I thought this slotted into an x86 system as a PCIe board, I didn't realize it interfaces through the socket.

    I really can't see the benefit of this design, besides cost savings.
    Reply