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Performance and energy footprint assessment of FPGAs and GPUs on HPC systems using Astrophysics application

by   David Goz, et al.
Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica

New challenges in Astronomy and Astrophysics (AA) are urging the need for a large number of exceptionally computationally intensive simulations. "Exascale" (and beyond) computational facilities are mandatory to address the size of theoretical problems and data coming from the new generation of observational facilities in AA. Currently, the High Performance Computing (HPC) sector is undergoing a profound phase of innovation, in which the primary challenge to the achievement of the "Exascale" is the power-consumption. The goal of this work is to give some insights about performance and energy footprint of contemporary architectures for a real astrophysical application in an HPC context. We use a state-of-the-art N-body application that we re-engineered and optimized to exploit the heterogeneous underlying hardware fully. We quantitatively evaluate the impact of computation on energy consumption when running on four different platforms. Two of them represent the current HPC systems (Intel-based and equipped with NVIDIA GPUs), one is a micro-cluster based on ARM-MPSoC, and one is a "prototype towards Exascale" equipped with ARM-MPSoCs tightly coupled with FPGAs. We investigate the behavior of the different devices where the high-end GPUs excel in terms of time-to-solution while MPSoC-FPGA systems outperform GPUs in power consumption. Our experience reveals that considering FPGAs for computationally intensive application seems very promising, as their performance is improving to meet the requirements of scientific applications. This work can be a reference for future platforms development for astrophysics applications where computationally intensive calculations are required.


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