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COM-HPC module unleashes up to 80-core Arm edge server SoC

Sep 17, 2021 — by Eric Brown 359 views

Adlink unveiled a “COM-HPC Ampere Altra” module that runs Linux on a 32- or 80-core, Arm v8.2 based Ampere Altra. There is also an automotive focused “AVA Developer Platform” that supports Arm’s new SOAFEE initiative.

Adlink announced a COM-HPC/Server module featuring Ampere’s up to 80-core Ampere Altra Arm server SoC, which uses Arm’s Neoverse N1 architecture. The module will first become available in an automotive focused AVA Developer Platform (see farther below).

The COM-HPC Ampere Altra is the first COM-HPC/Server module we have covered, although we have reported on several smaller, more embedded COM-HPC/Client modules. These include Congatec’s Tiger Lake-U based Conga-HPC/cTLU and Tiger Lake-H powered Conga-HPC/cTLH, and Eurotech’s Tiger Lake-U based CPU-180. For more on COM-HPC, you can check out our report on MSC’s Coffee Lake driven MSC HCC-CFLS, which was the first fully announced COM-HPC module.



COM-HPC Ampere Altra (left) and Ampere Altra block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

Although the COM-HPC Ampere Altra operates on the very high-end of what we might consider embedded, Adlink calls it an embedded edge product. The module can “reliably and predictably process the most compute intensive workloads, eliminating bottlenecks and restrictions typically caused by memory caches and system memory limits on edge devices,” claims Adlink.

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The COM-HPC Ampere Altra is designed for applications with demanding workloads and real-time or near real-time requirements such as autonomous driving, stationary and mobile robotics, medical imaging and robotic surgery, test and measurement, and video broadcasting systems. The module can also be used “as a native arm64 development and compilation system for lower power embedded arm64 designs,” says Adlink.

The Ampere Altra SoC uses an architecture based on Arm Neoverse N1. The 7nm fabricated Altra is the edgier, lower-end sibling to the cloud server oriented, up to 128-core Altra Max.

The Ampere Altra provides 32 to 80 64-bit, Arm v8.2 cores clocked at 2.8GHz and running at between 60 to 175 Watts. There is a 1MB L2 cache per core plus a 32MB system level cache.

The COM-HPC Ampere Altra provides a choice of an Ampere Altra Q80-28 with 80 cores at 2.6GHz/2.8GHz or a Q32-17 with 32 1.5GHz/1.7GHz cores. (Ampere also offers 64- and 72-core models.)



COM-HPC Ampere Altra and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The headless module supports up to 768GB DDR4 via 6x channels. There are 64x PCIe Gen4 lanes, with 3x PCIe Gen3 x16 interfaces available to users. A dedicated IPMB and PCIe x1 lane can connect to a remote management BMC, as well as to a shelf manager on the carrier board.

The COM-HPC Ampere Altra supports 4x 10GbE and a single GbE port. Other interfaces include 4x USB 3.0, 2x UART, and 12x GPIO. There is also a TPM 2.0 chip and a 40-pin debug header.

The module complies with COM/HPC Server Size E, which at 200 x 160mm is larger than a Mini-ITX board. The module supplies a 12V AT or 12V/5V ATX input with ACPI 5.0 power management.

There is a 0 to 60°C operating range with 5-90%, non-condensing relative humidity tolerance. Shock and vibration resistance are compliant with IEC 60068-2-64 and IEC-60068-2-27, as well as MIL-STD-202F, Method 213B.

The COM-HPC Ampere Altra supports the open source edk2 (edkii) as a bootloader with TianoCore/UEFI. “Existing customers can just download a stock aarch64 (arm64) ISO such as Ubuntu and install it through booting a live ISO directly on the target,” says Adlink. There is official support for Ubuntu Server 20.04.3 LTS, Yocto Hardknott, and CentOS 8 Stream Linux distributions.

 
AVA Developer Platform

Adlink also announced an AVA Developer Platform based on the 32-core version of the COM-HPC Ampere Altra. Like the module, the AVA Developer Platform supports Arm’s newly announced Scalable Open Architecture for Embedded Edge (SOAFEE) for software-defined automotive applications.



AVA Developer Platform
(click images to enlarge)

The SOAFEE initiative supports the trend in automotive computers away from using hundreds of discrete ECU chips in favor of a smaller number of software-defined domain controllers. The AVA Developer Platform and an upcoming, 80-core AVA-AP1 system that will be used for in-vehicle prototyping are official reference platforms for SOAFEE.

The AVA Developer Platform combines the COM-HPC Ampere Altra with a carrier board and other components into a liquid-cooled tower system with a 750W power supply. The system ships with 32GB DDR4 and 128GB NVMe M.2 storage. There is also an Intel Quad X710 10GbE LAN card and a “USB 3.0 card for front panel.”

The Ampere Altra is one of the first products to receive an Arm SystemReady SR certification. Adlink is “working closely with Ampere and Arm to certify the COM-HPC Altra prototype system as a SystemReady SR device,” says the company. The certification ensures reliable operation and interoperability with various OSes, hypervisors, and other software.

 
Further information

Adlink has sent prototypes of the AVA Developer Platform to “key ecosystem partners” and is taking pre-orders. No pricing or availability information was provided for the COM-HPC Ampere Altra or AVA Developer Platform. More information may be found in announcement and product page.
 

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