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The Next Platform Article: On-Chip Wizardry To Optimize Performance At Scale

By February 26, 2019May 12th, 2021No Comments

As server chips have evolved from simple processors into complex, heterogeneous SoCs, it has become a lot more challenging to optimize the software running on them. When these SoCs are deployed in web-scale clouds and datacenter-sized supercomputers, these challenges are magnified. UltraSoC, a Cambridge UK-based startup, has come up with a novel way to help users figure out what’s going in the dark recesses of the servers in such environments, namely put the monitoring tools directly on the silicon.
To do this, UltraSoC offers logic modules for things like performance monitoring, debugging, and security services that can be embedded onto SoCs.  These IP blocks can be licensed by chip vendors and etched into their SoCs alongside the processors, memory controllers, accelerators, network interfaces, and so on. The logic then becomes available to collect all the relevant runtime information as data zips around the chip.
One of UltraSoC’s customers in this space, Esperanto is developing a machine learning SoC, with 4,000 or so processing elements on a single die. The chip is based on the RISC-V architecture and like many of its rival devices making their way into the market, is designed for high floating point performance and energy efficiency. The company is hoping that putting the monitor and some of the analytics on their chip will make it easier for their customers to develop more optimal software.
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