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Nvidia offered details on its Grace central processing unit (CPU) “Superchip” during CEO Jensen Huang’s keynote speech at its virtual Nvidia GTC 2022 event.

The Arm-based chip features 144 high-performance cores and a terabyte of secondary memory. Huang said the chip would double the performance and energy efficiency of Nvidia’s chips. It is on schedule to ship next year, he said, and it can be a “superchip,” or essentially two chips connected.

The chip is Nvidia’s own variant of the Arm Neoverse architecture, and it is a discrete datacenter CPU designed for AI infrastructure and high-performance computing, providing the highest performance and twice the memory bandwidth and energy-efficiency compared to today’s leading server chips, Huang said.

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Huang explained that a supercomputer nearly one billion times more powerful than any that exist today is needed to predict climate change accurately. Nvidia and university researchers have developed a weather forecasting model dubbed Forecast Net — which is precisely the kind of task that CPUs like Grace will be needed for.

The Nvidia Grace CPU Superchip comprises two CPU chips connected, coherently, over NVLink-C2C, a new high-speed, low-latency, chip-to-chip interconnect.

The Grace CPU Superchip complements Nvidia’s first CPU-GPU integrated module, the Grace Hopper Superchip, announced last year, which is designed to serve giant-scale HPC and AI applications with an Nvidia Hopper architecture-based GPU. Both superchips share the same underlying CPU architecture, and the NVLink-C2C interconnect. Nvidia will be able to pair two Grace CPUs with up to eight Hopper chips.

“A new type of datacenter has emerged — AI factories that process and refine mountains of data to produce intelligence,” said Huang. “The Grace CPU Superchip offers the highest performance, memory bandwidth and Nvidia software platforms in one chip and will shine as the CPU of the world’s AI infrastructure.”

The Nvidia CPU Platform

Nvidia’s Earth 2 simulation will model climate change.

Created to provide the highest performance, Grace CPU Superchip gets an estimated performance of 740 on the SPECrate2017_int_base from its 144 cores.

This is more than 1.5 times higher compared to the dual-CPU shipping with the DGX A100 today, as estimated in Nvidia’s labs with the same class of compilers.

Grace CPU Superchip’s LPDDR5x memory subsystem offers double the bandwidth of traditional DDR5 designs at 1 terabyte per second while consuming dramatically less power with the entire CPU including the memory consuming just 500 watts.

The Grace CPU Superchip is based on the latest data center architecture, Armv9. Combining the highest single-threaded core performance with support for Arm’s new generation of vector extensions, the Grace CPU Superchip will bring immediate benefits to many applications.

Nvidia said the Grace CPU Superchip will excel at the most demanding HPC, AI, data analytics, scientific computing
and hyperscale computing applications with its highest performance, memory bandwidth, energy efficiency and configurability.

Meanwhile, rival Advanced Micro Devices announced the general availability of the AMD Instinct MI200 family of accelerators and ROCm 5 software. Previously introduced in November, AMD Instinct MI200 series accelerators, which includes the MI210, MI250 and MI250X, are built on AMD CDNA 2 architecture.

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