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Parallella 1024-core Epiphany-V RISC Processor Coming Soon

December 22nd, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

Parallella project’s goal is to ” democratize access to parallel computing by offering affordable open source hardware platforms and development tools”, and they’ve already done that with their very first $99 “Supercomputer” board combining a Xilinz Zynq FPGA + ARM SoC to the company’s Epiphany-III 16-core coprocessor. But the company has made progress after their 64-core Epiphany-IV, by taping out Epiphany-V processor with 1024-core last October.

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Epiphany-V main features and specifications:

  • 1024 64-bit RISC processors
  • 64-bit memory architecture
  • 64-bit and 32-bit IEEE floating point support
  • 64 MB of distributed on-chip SRAM
  • 1024 programmable I/O signals
  • 3x 136-bit wide 2D mesh NOCs (Network-on-Chips)
  • 2052 separate power domains
  • Support for up to one billion shared memory processors
  • Support for up to one petabyte of shared memory (That’s 1,000,000 gigabytes)
  • Binary compatibility with Epiphany III/IV chips
  • Custom ISA extensions for deep learning, communication, and cryptography
  • TSMC 16FF process
  • 4.56 Billion transistors, 117mm2 silicon area

With its 4.5 billion transistors, the chip has 36% more transistors than Apple’s A10 processor at about the same die size, and compared to other HPC processors, such as NVIDIA P100 or UC-Davis Kilocore, the chip offers up to 80x better processor density and up to 3.6x advantage in memory density.

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Click to Enlarge

You’ll find more technical details, minus power consumption numbers and frequency which are not available yet, in Epiphany V technical paper.

The first chips taped out at TSMC will be sent back mid to end Q1 2017.

  1. December 22nd, 2016 at 19:54 | #1

    Very interesting. Reminds me of Chuck Moore 144 core CPUs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ut_b0OB2W0

    It makes them hybrid between FPGA and fixed CPUs. The programming creativity is huge.

  2. December 22nd, 2016 at 20:40 | #2

    I’ve just seen they also have a 1024-core simulator that can run on a PC with 16GB RAM -> https://www.parallella.org/2016/12/21/an-open-source-1024-core-epiphany-simulator/

  3. bob
    December 22nd, 2016 at 23:20 | #3

    i only want to know the FLOPS to compare or i would never buy one to test.

  4. December 23rd, 2016 at 02:14 | #4

    Pretty nice pretty nice.

  5. theguyuk
    December 23rd, 2016 at 03:44 | #5


    So what use will they be put to?

    One of Arms original folk works at the university in My town doing neural networks using custom A9 cores. If they have not upgraded yet.

    Here you go http://apt.cs.manchester.ac.uk/projects/SpiNNaker/SpiNNchip/

  6. Anton Fosselius
    December 23rd, 2016 at 16:55 | #6

    i wrote a paper about that project, http://www.idt.mdh.se/kurser/ct3340/ht10/FinalPapers/4-Lenander_Fosselius.pdf

    a lot of technical details is available here: https://www.youtube.com/shared?ci=XbDLsKE9yAQ

  7. December 24th, 2016 at 01:21 | #7

    1024 cores backed by 64MB on chip? That’s 64k per core, total. A Skylake has a 32k L1 for each core and an 8MB L2 cache shared between the 4 cores. If all the cores are pulling data at once (which they’re going to be with a cache that shallow) the best they’re going to be able to do is 25MB/s/core with DDR4-3200 (25.6 GB/s). That sucks. Except for a small set of problems, the thing is going to spend most of it’s time stalled out waiting for data. What’s even weirder is their white paper is touting the MB RAM/mm^2. Wow, it has a 11x advantage in memory density over knights landing! That’s great, except it also has 14 times as many processors. They’re also neglecting the 8-16GB of on package memory of the knights landing which has about 5x the bandwidth of DDR4 and it doesn’t seem they have an equivalent solution.

  8. Victor
    December 24th, 2016 at 03:13 | #8

    @thesandbender the RAM is distributed and locally accessible to avoid such bottlenecks

  9. notzed
    December 27th, 2016 at 06:54 | #9

    I did quite a bit of playing around with the 32-bit 16 core part on the parallella.

    It’s a cute core. The FLOPS are great and easy to extract. The isa is (mostly) pretty neat and all that.

    But the RAM bandwidth was abysmal. Even a single core can saturate it and the mesh network routing mechanism means it’s hard to get fair access – each column away from the side connected to the ram gets 1/2 as much access as the previous in a saturated situation. There’s not enough on-core ram, insufficient interrupt capability and too many registers to be able to hide latency with threads.

    The dual-core arm on the parallella boards had much faster access to ram for memory bound tasks, and the epiphany had so many flops it was hard to find a task they were suited for (deep learning might be one but it also needs gobs of memory).

    To be honest i think the GCN-like GPU architectures win out, they’re easier to program because both cores and memory latency are (mostly) abstracted by the hardware.

    Still It was fun for a while but i gave up because nobody was interested in improving the supplied sdk – which was pretty crap. Relied on linker scripts to map code to each core by hand and other nonsense. Maybe it’s improved since.

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