Unlock the potential of Arm for your HPC workloads with Oracle Linux and Oracle Cloud's Arm-based instances

August 17, 2021 | 3 minute read
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HPC workloads have become increasingly commonplace in the cloud, given the availability of cost-effective and high-performance options from cloud service providers. Compute-intensive applications, such as those used for genomic sequencing or computational fluid dynamics, are fundamental for the success of organizations in fields ranging from the life sciences to manufacturing. As a result, price-performance and reliability are key factors that are considered when choosing where to deploy HPC clusters. Oracle Cloud’s new Arm-based offering, Ampere A1 Compute, combined with Oracle Linux provide consistency and high performance, resulting in an optimal environment for HPC systems.

HPC workloads are very demanding performance-wise. To meet these needs, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) offers Ampere A1 Compute shapes in both bare metal with 160 cores and flexible virtual machines (VMs) with up to 80 cores. This industry-leading high core count comes in processors with a single-threaded core architecture, which means cores are isolated from the noisy neighbor impact of other workloads running on the same processor. The result is consistent and predictable performance, which can be especially important for certain HPC solutions, such as trading applications in financial services. This also brings security advantages, as the single-threaded core architecture lowers the risk of side channel attacks and thread-safety issues by isolating customer workloads. Additionally, the Ampere A1 Compute platform features Arm's TrustZone technology, which creates a trusted execution environment by implementing two execution worlds that are hardware separated.

A further benefit of handling your HPC needs with OCI’s Ampere processors is that these instances scale linearly. Given their single thread per core, each additional core can provide the same performance as the previous ones. This means that, whether you need to scale up or scale out to tackle more computationally intense problems, your system’s capacity will increase proportionally to your investment. On top of its scalability, the Ampere A1 Compute platform features processors with a large, dedicated cache, resulting in instructions being processed faster, an additional advantage for your HPC solutions.

To get the most bang for your buck, you can run your Arm-based instances for your HPC workloads on Oracle Linux. Oracle Linux is not new to the Arm ecosystem, having supported the aarch64 architecture since June of 2018. Oracle Linux for Arm includes Ampere toolchain optimizations which consist of modifications to the compiler internals that result in more efficient scheduling of instructions. In addition, Oracle Linux’s optimized operating system (OS) kernel, the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK), is ideal for HPC workloads. As compared to CentOS, UEK provides a performance advantage of up to 7% when running several HPC software solutions. Switching from CentOS to Oracle Linux is easy and a great alternative since CentOS 8 will reach end-of-life in December 2021. Best of all, Oracle Linux Premier Support is included on Oracle Cloud so you receive high quality support at no additional cost when you choose Oracle Linux and OCI’s Ampere A1 Compute shapes for your HPC needs. Premier support also includes zero-downtime patching with Oracle Ksplice. Through Ksplice, security patches can be applied while the OS is running, without a reboot or interruptions, meaning that HPC environments don't have to be left unpatched to prioritize uptime.

To test your own HPC workloads on OCI’s new Arm-based shapes with Oracle Linux, you can start by signing up for an OCI account. You can take advantage of Oracle Cloud Always Free Tier resources and apply for OCI Arm Accelerator credits. When creating a new instance in the OCI console, select an Oracle Linux image and either of the powerful Ampere A1 VM or bare metal shapes.



Leonardo Jimenez

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