The European HPC segment is slowing towards irrelevance

SiPearl’s European-made Rhea CPU, which is supposed to power HPC systems, has been delayed again. The first samples of the processor will not appear until 2025, at which time all the technologies on board will become obsolete.

SiPearl’s Rhea CPU has been delayed to 2025. Only then will SiPearl begin distributing samples of the HPC processor, with general availability planned for an unspecified later date. The Rhea CPU is part of the European Processors Initiative to boost high-performance computing (HPC) capabilities in the EU and was originally scheduled for launch in 2023.

Outdated technology

By 2025, SiPearl’s efforts and EU funds may be in vain. After all, all the important technological components that the Rhea CPU is built on are outdated.

  • Rhea will have 80 computing cores (instead of 72 as initially planned), built on Arm Neoverse V1 designs. Neoverse V2 is already used today by AWS and Google, among others, and next year Neoverse V3 will offer competition.
  • The chip has a unique memory architecture with four HBM2E stacks and a 256-bit DDR5 interface. This year, HPC chips are embracing HBM3 memory.
  • SiPearl will bake the CPUs using TSMC’s 7nm process. 5nm technology is now the norm, and with the launch of Rhea, competing processors will launch from the 3nm range.

What about Jupiter?

Rhea1 is supposed to pave the way for European-made HPC chips in the future. The processor can still play this leading role. After all, SiPearl provides support for an extensive ecosystem. All the steps towards adopting this segment will also help in adopting future generations.

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The first supercomputer with Rhea is also in the pipeline. The impact on the buyer’s system, which will be built by Eviden in Germany, is unclear. It appears that the timing of delivery of this system, scheduled for delivery this year, is not possible.

Not a successful start

However, we cannot call this saga a success. Undoubtedly, the delay will reduce the influence of the RIAA. Furthermore, the design has been toned down a bit from the start.

The ambition of the European Processor Initiative is to enable the European Union to compete with the United States and Japan with its own chips. Arm, whose designs are incubated by SiPearl, is originally a British company and is now in Japanese hands through its parent company Softbank. The licensing ecosystem is also less open than Risk-V, for example.

Winton Frazier

 "Amateur web lover. Incurable travel nerd. Beer evangelist. Thinker. Internet expert. Explorer. Gamer."

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