Low-Power High Performance Computing - EPCC - University of ...


Low-Power High Performance Computing - EPCC - University of ...

architecture. That is the highest performance ARM processor, designed around the

most advanced, high- efficiency, dynamic length, multi-issue superscalar, out-of-order,

speculating 8-stage pipeline. The Cortex-A9 processor delivers unprecedented levels

of performance and power efficiency with the functionality required for leading edge

products across the broad range of systems [9] [10]. The Cortex-A9 processor comes

in both multi-core (MPcore) and single-core system versions, making it a promising

alternative for low-power HPC clusters. What ARM cores lack is the 64-bit address

space, as they support only 32-bit. The recent Cortex-A9 comes with optional NEON

media and floating-point processing engine, aiming to deliver higher performance for

most intensive applications, such as video encoding [11].

Cortex-A8 uses as well the ARMv7 architecture but implementing a 13-stage integer

pipeline and a 10-stage NEON pipeline. The NEON support is used for accelerating

multimedia applications as well as signal-processing applications. The default support

of NEON in Cortex-A8 comes out of the fact that this processor is mainly designed

for embedded devices. However, NEON technology can be used as an accelerator for

multiple data processing on single input. This, enables the ARM to operate on four

multiply-accumulate instructions per cycle via dual-issue instructions to two pipelines

[11]. NEON supports 64-bit and 128-bit, being able to operate both integer and floatingpoint


Commercial servers manufacturers are already shipping low-power servers with ARM

cores. A number of different low-cost, low-power ARM boxes and development boards

are available in the market as well, such as OpenRD, DreamPlug, PandaBoard and

BeagleBoard. Moreover, NVIDIA has announced the Denver project, which aims to

build custom CPU cores for the GPUs based on the ARM architecture, targeting both

on personal computers and supercomputers [9].

Figure 4.1: OpenRD board SoC with ARM (Marvell 88F6281) (Cantanko).


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