CXL™ Consortium Member Spotlight: Numascale
CXL™ Consortium member company Numascale recently participated in a Q&A session to discuss advantages of consortium membership, Numascale’s expertise in developing cache coherent interconnect technology and the impact of CXL technology on future datacenters. Read the full Q&A with Numascale below.
Can you share a brief introduction of Numascale?
Numascale is the leading independent provider of Cache-Coherent shared memory interconnect technology for modern CPUs.
As a fabless semiconductor company, Numascale has developed a Cc-Numa Node Controller for Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors with the Intel® UPI 1.0 and is now following up with a new generation node controller for UPI 2.0. The Numascale technology is instruction set architecture agnostic and can be implemented for any CPU that exposes a coherent inter-socket link. The Node Controllers are used to build scale-up systems with up to 32 Xeon® CPUs that all share the same coherent memory, I/O and subsystems and operate under a single instance of the operating system. The Scale-up systems are especially well suited for business-critical applications like transactional and analytical database workloads as well as graph databases and other Big Data applications that are not suitable for scale-out systems. The systems have extensive support for RAS features that make them resilient to transient errors and provide extremely high up-time. Systems using Numascale Node Controllers are marketed and supported worldwide by Atos and other system vendors.
Why did Numascale decide to join the CXL consortium?
CXL provides a natural extension on top of PCI Express® (PCIe®) by supplying a coherent shared memory protocol between CPUs and accelerators. This will ease programming and increase efficiency between CPUs and accelerators. We see CXL as a way for cloud providers to architect systems that are better at utilizing expensive resources like memory and accelerators.
We recognized the market impact through the fact that Intel is implementing CXL ports on their CPUs. Numascale has extensive expertise in coherency protocols and low latency design through our long experience in designing and implementing cache-coherent node controllers for scale-up systems and in interconnect systems in general. This enables us to utilize our IP to develop components for CXL and represents an opportunity for Numascale to expand our market footprint in datacenters.
What expertise does Numascale bring to the consortium?
Numascale brings extensive experience in developing cache coherent interconnect technology over the last three decades. Our most senior staff members have experience from the development of the SCI-based cache coherent interconnect used in Convex Exemplar, Data General Aviion, Numascale’s NumaConnect-1 and 2 for AMD Opteron, and lately the UPI-1.0-based node controller UNC-3 and the coming UPI 2.0-based UNC-5.
What is the biggest advantage of CXL Consortium membership? How does Numascale participate?
The biggest advantage of the CXL Consortium is the tremendous industrial impact through the fact that so many companies have joined. This means that it is likely that the CXL standard will be supported by enough vendors to meet the critical mass required to create a significant market for components and IP. Numascale joined the consortium in March 2019 as an adopter to follow the development of the standard. We upgraded to the contributor level of membership in July 2021 to be more closely engaged with the working groups and to contribute to the evolution of the standard.
What use cases will be ideal targets for CXL technology? Which market segments will benefit from CXL?
The obvious one is of course the connection to accelerators. Having a coherent view of memory between CPUs and accelerators will simplify communication. Another one is resource sharing which will improve efficiency in datacenters and contribute to reduced power consumption and resource utilization. Enterprise, cloud, hyper-scalers and HPC market segments will benefit from CXL.
What does Numascale see as CXL’s impact within your industry?
We see a change in the way system resources will be interconnected at the drawer- and rack-level through the future availability of CXL memory expanders and switches. This will bring down initial system cost and operational expenses in datacenters for a wide range of market segments. With exponentially growing memory requirements, better utilization of this important resource will also contribute to reduced power consumption which is an important concern as the world must move to renewable energy sources.
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