Greater Efficiency and More Features
Fujitsu has revealed that the company is preparing the successor for its A64FX processor for high-performance computing. The company’s second-generation Arm-based server CPU is slated to offer considerably higher performance and energy efficiency than its predecessor, as well as add features to address AI and data analytics applications. The CPU is codenamed Monaka and it will arrive sometime in 2027 and will power a next-generation supercomputer due in 2028.
Like the original A64FX, Fujitsu’s Monaka will once again be an Arm ISA processor. But it will also integrate hardware to accelerate artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics applications, according to details released by the company at its ActivateNow: Technology Summit at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, reports The Register.
The promise to boost performance in traditional HPC and emerging AI workloads is logical. Although Fujitsu’s existing A64FX already has support for 512-bit Scalable Vector Extensions (SVE) and can operate in FP64, FP32, FP16 and INT8 modes for a variety of AI and traditional supercomputer applications, the rapidly developing field of AI workloads has been adopting new data formats beyond FP16 and INT8. Meanwhile, Retaining the Arm architecture will ensure that the Monaka processor will be able to run code developed for the original A64FX CPU as well as other Arm-based system-on-chips for datacenters.
“The next-generation DC CPU (Monaco) that we are developing will have a wider range of features and will prove more energy efficient,” a Fujitsu spokesperson told The Register. “The range of potential applications is wider than that of the A64FX, which has special characteristics (eg, interconnects) specific to Fugaku.
One of Fujitsu’s main goals with Monaka is to provide ‘overwhelming energy efficiency’ when compared with competing processors available at the time, claims The Register citing the company’s officials. The firm is aiming to deliver 70% higher overall performance and 100% higher performance-per-watt than competing chips. Although with delivery not expected until 2027, it goes without saying that any competitive performance expectations are aspirational at best.
Fujitsu’s current 48+4-core A64FX processor for HPC has proven that the Arm architecture is perfectly capable of powering supercomputers, in this case Fugaku, which was the world’s fastest supercomputer from 2020 to 2022. But the CPU is chiefly tailored for traditional supercomputer workloads , and as a result it’s only been used in a handful of systems, including Fugaku, Fujitsu’s PrimeHPC FX700 and FX1000 systems (which are available for purchase), and HPE’s Apollo 80 HPC platform.
Monaka, in turn, will allow Fujitsu to take a stab at supplying the broader HPC market with a high performance Arm processor. While the company isn’t offering specific technical details at this time, they are making it clear that they’re designing the chip for a wider audience, as opposed to the supercomputer-focused A64FX and its niche features like on-package HBM2 and the Tofu Interconnect D fabric to connect multiple nodes in a cluster. Shifting to a broader audience opens up more sales opportunities for Fujitsu, but it will put the company in more direct competition with other Arm server CPU vendors such as NVIDIA, Ampere, and the many internal projects at hyperscalers.
In any case, it’ll be interesting to see how things unfold once Monaka arrives in 2027. The Arm server CPU market has quickly blossomed over the last few years, so by the time Monaka hits the scene, it’s going to be coming into a market with lots of opportunity for Arm servers and Arm software, but also a market with no shortage of companies trying to claim their piece of the pie.
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