High-performance computing in the edge

High-performance computing in the edge

The PICMG (PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group) has published a preliminary version of its Computer-on-Modules for High-Performance Computing COM-HPC specification. COM-HPC defines Computer-on-Modules in five module sizes for high-performance edge servers and clients in industrial environments. It is supposed to take into account the growing demand for computing power in the edge and provide significantly more computing power and I.

COMe was introduced by Intel and Kontron in 2003 as ETXexpress and in 2005 as PICMG specification COM Express Revision 1.0 published. It defines a bootable PC with CPU, GPU, RAM and standard interfaces on a module connected to an application-specific carrier board via a maximum of two connectors.

COM-HPC is intended to complement COM Express, but is not limited to x86 processors. Instead, it also allows the use of RISC processors, such as ARM CPUs, but also FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays) and GPGPUs (General Purpose Computation on Graphics Processing Units).

Significant increase

All modules are connected to the carrier board via two 400-pin BGA connectors, which can handle a maximum of 32 GT. Allowed up to eight full-size DIMMs and four SO-DIMMs, respectively, and a power consumption of 150 watts by the CPUs. COMe modules, on the other hand, are limited to 10 GT.

Also with the I. The specification provides for a module size of 95 or 120 or 160 mm x 120 mm. The COM-HPC server modules can hold up to 65 PCIe Gen4 or Gen5 lanes, two USB 3 or USB 4 ports, four graphics interfaces and eight 25 Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, plus two 10GBase-T interfaces. The server modules were allowed to be 160 or 200 mm x 160 mm in size, much coarser than COMe modules, for which, for example, were only allowed to have 32 PCIe Gen3 lanes, one 1GBase-T and four 10GE interfaces. New is the support of PCIe targets on the module, for example for FPGA or GPU modules.

The PICMG develops patent-free, open embedded computing specifications. Now that their technical subcommittee has approved the COM-HPC specification, it is going into member review with the pre-publication. This review phase acts as a final review by the PICMG members. They include IT companies like AMI, Intel and Supermicro as well as industrial IT providers like ADLINK, Advantech, Amphenol, congatec and Kontron, but also the University of Bielefeld. Ratification is planned for early 2021, and a platform management interface specification, a COM-HPC EEEP and a carrier board design guide will complement the base specification.

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