Startup Bitfusion Wants to Speed Up Server Workload Performance
Rama said his company's use of recompiled libraries will help speed up application performance in systems with accelerators and those using only CPUs. However, while doing so will give workloads a speed increase, a challenge is the lack of a clear standard for interfaces between the accelerators and application, which means having to deal with multiple standards, from CUDA to OpenCL to AVX2. However, Rama said that OpenCL appears to be becoming the "base layer" for accessing devices. Bitfusion officials see a time when the software will lead to a 100-fold performance boost in workloads. Accelerators have been used in HPC systems for several years, though for the most part they have been GPUs. However, FPGAs—with their ability to be reprogrammed through software to meet the demands of particular workloads—are getting more attention. While GPUs are found in many HPC environments, FPGAs are better used in situations where software is apt to change. Bitfusion is starting off working with CPUs, GPUs and FPGAs from Intel, AMD and Nvidia, and has plans to support ARM-based server chips in the future, Rama said. The company also is looking into IBM's Power architecture."The key is software," he said. "The PC became popular because of Microsoft. … If you don't have good software, the hardware will not work." Bitfusion's direction is similar to that of SRC Computers, a 16-year-old company started by the founder of supercomputer Cray that has been selling HPC systems to defense and intelligence agencies for about a dozen years. SRC in May announced its entrance into the commercial server space with the Saturn 1 systems, a dynamically reconfigurable server based on a new computing architecture that leverages FPGAs in a way that enables customers to significantly speed up performance and use 1 percent of the power and space of traditional servers at about 25 percent of the cost.
Customers will be able to access the technology by putting the software onto their own systems using Bitfusion Boost, or buying systems from Bitfusion that already have the accelerators and software installed in them. The company is working with Dell and Supermicro to build the Bitfusion Appliances. The other way is through the Bitfusion Supercloud via the company's partnership with Rackspace.