AMD Rome Army: Finland Unveils 200,000-Core Supercomputer

Source: Atos

Folks have made a habit of calling AMD "the red team." In this case, it seems more appropriate to call it an army: the Finnish IT Center for Science (CSC) announced that an upcoming supercomputer would utilize 3,125 of AMD's 64-core EPYC "Rome" processors for a combined 200,000 cores. The resulting supercomputer should offer peak performance of 6.4 petaflops, which is significantly higher than the CSC's current capabilities.

The CSC actually revealed a two-phase plan to improve its high-performance computing infrastructure. The first involves a BullSequana X400 cluster filled with Intel Cascade Lake Xeon processors. But so far, the attention has gone to the second phase, which revolves around what we believe is technically called a metric ton of AMD CPUs crammed into a significantly more powerful BullSequana XH2000 supercomputer.

Between the two phases, the CSC's new infrastructure should peak at 11 petaflops of performance and offer five-times the computing capacity of the old system. HPC Wire reported that the CSC plans to use the system to help with "climate research, quantum mechanics, life sciences, fusion energy, and many other domains." (The CSC's announcement is available here if you happen to read Finnish.)

AMD revealed the EPYC "Rome" CPUs in November shortly after it announced its Radeon Instinct MI60 and MI50 accelerators. The processors are based on the company's Zen 2 microarchitecture and utilize the second generation of its Infinity Fabric technology. They also revolve around the new "chiplet" ecosystem that surrounds a 14nm I/O die with eight 7nm CPU chiplet modules that each feature up to 8 cores and 16 threads.

The EPYC "Rome" CPUs also support the PCIe 4.0 standard, can handle up to 4TB of DDR4 memory per socket, and boast compatibility with both the existing Naples platform and the next-generation platform. AMD still hasn't officially revealed how much the processors would cost, nor has it offered a release date, though it has started sampling the processors to its partners.

Yet the lack of publicly available information about the EPYC "Rome" CPUs apparently hasn't stopped the CSC from planning its next supercomputer around them. The project is expected to cost $44.2 million (€37 million) for the hardware and the training required to use it effectively, too, which means this isn't a small vote of confidence. AMD's effectively sold 3,125 of its next-gen server processors before it's even fully announced them.

Atos, the company that makes the BullSequana supercomputers, said it expects to finish phase one of this program in 2019 and complete phase two in 2020. The first phase lays the foundation with Intel and Nvidia hardware meant specifically for AI research; the second is "a giant leap in computing capacity and positioning Finland as a leading country within supercomputing." The new supercomputer will be built in Kajaani, Finland.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.