Russia prepares 128-core server platform for supercomputers: Report

With no access to modern technologies at scale, Russia badly needs high-performance computing for basically everything to keep its economics, and, well, war machine running. One of the ways it might seek to obtain compute performance is to develop its own HPC platforms, and this is apparently what Russian companies are doing, according to CNews. The source report talks of a 128-core processor platform and a platform around it. 

Roselectronics, part of the Rostec state corporation, has developed a new software and hardware complex named Basis for high-performance computing and cloud services. This development relies entirely on domestic technologies and is designed by the Scientific Research Center for Electronic Computing (SRCEC), a part of Roselectronics. 

The complex comprises of three general-purpose servers, each capable of supporting up to 128 processor cores and providing up to 2TB of RAM. Servers are interconnected using the Angara high-speed communication network, which was also developed by the SRCEC. This setup ensures ultra-low latency and high-intensity data exchange between servers, facilitating efficient computational operations across the cluster. 

Basis is capable of scaling up to several hundred nodes and supports the creation of thousands of virtual workplaces. The data transmission channel of this complex allows for speeds of up to 75 Gbps, with a minimal communication delay of only 1 microsecond. According to the report, Basis can be used for setting up data processing and storage centers, virtualized offices, and servers for graphic applications. It is particularly effective in environments requiring supercomputing capabilities for unconventional calculations. This makes it ideal for engineering applications that necessitate virtualized workspaces with robust support for 3D graphics processing. 

“The scope of application for the new software and hardware complex is very wide. For example, our technologies can easily handle the task of creating virtualized engineering workplaces with support for hardware processing of 3D graphics. The high data transmission capacity and flexible scaling system allow performing the most complex computational operations. Our specialists are ready to calculate and adapt our new SHC for specific tasks and customer needs,” said Ruslan Dzeitov, CEO of SRCEC. 

Made in China?

The biggest question is perhaps how Russia plans to produce this 128-core processor (or two 64-core processors?) as it is going to be a sizable piece of silicon, or multiple chiplets. While Russia has its own semiconductor production capacities, they — at 65nm-class — are completely outdated by now and the best that the country’s chipmakers can do with proper economic efficiency are microcontrollers at best. Therefore, for a 128-core datacenter-class processor, the Roselektrica company will have to ask foreign partners. 

Given the fact that Taiwan-based foundries are excluded from its options (e.g. TSMC, Vanguard, etc.) due to sanctions, the only way for Russia to produce this CPU is to ask Chinese foundries, namely SMIC and Hua Hong. SMIC has two generations of 7nm-class process technologies and the 2nd Generation 7nm-class process could be a good fit to make a datacenter class design. Meanwhile, it is unclear whether SMIC has enough 7nm capacity to produce chips for China’s high-tech giant Huawei and the needs of Russia’s industry.

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