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Versatile Integrated Accelerator-based Heterogeneous Data Centres

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - VINEYARD (Versatile Integrated Accelerator-based Heterogeneous Data Centres)

Reporting period: 2017-08-01 to 2019-01-31

Emerging applications like cloud computing, big data analytics and IoT has created the need for powerful data centres that can sustain the vast amount of data that needs to be processed. However, as the volume of data that needs to be processed keeps increasing, more energy-efficient server architectures need to be developed to face the increased workload without consuming excessive amounts of power.

VINEYARD address these issues by developing a novel platform that utilizes hardware accelerators to increase the processing power and decrease the energy consumption. VINEYARD developed novel energy-efficient platforms by integrating two types of hardware accelerator: A new-generation dataflow-based accelerator and a novel architecture for FPGA-based (control-flow) accelerators.

VINEYARD developed also a high-level programming framework that allows the seamless integration of heterogeneous hardware accelerators (e.g. CPUs, GPUs, FPGAs, DFEs) in modern data centers. The VINEYARD framework allows end-users to seamlessly utilize these accelerators in heterogeneous computing systems by using typical cluster frameworks (i.e. Spark). The chief breakthrough of the VINEYARD framework lies in the ability to hide from the users the programming complexity of the heterogeneous computing system and allow them to focus on application coding.

VINEYARD also fostered the establishment of an ecosystem that empowers open innovation based on hardware accelerators as data-center plugins, thereby facilitating innovative enterprises (large industries, SMEs, and creative start-ups) to develop novel solutions using the VINEYARD framework. A central repository called AccelStore (www.accel-store.com) has been created that is used to host hardware-accelerator IP for use in heterogeneous computing systems.

VINEYARD demonstrated the advantages of its approach on three real use-cases:

In the domain of neurocomputing, performance evaluation involved the acceleration of the Inferior-Olive simulator and the flexHH library as ported onto CPU-based accelerators (Intel Phi KNL) and DFE-based (Maxeler-based platforms) accelerators. Results indicate speedups from 11x to 36x to contemporary solutions, a staggering improvement paving the way for more powerful, model-based brain exploration.
In the case on financial applications, the project assessed the acceleration of risk-valuation calculation formulas, as well as of order-commuting functions - financial protocols. Hardware accelerators have been integrated into the trading system and overall performance evaluation showed that the accelerators can provide up to 6.12x speedup compared to contemporary processors.
In the domain of Database and data-analytics workloads, the VINEYARD accelerators yielded speedups up to 12x compared to contemporary processors for tasks like sorting, filtering, hashing and encryption. The specific applications can achieve significant speedup only to platforms where the accelerator is tightly connected to the processor.
VINEYARD, a three-year research project funded by the EC under Horizon2020 program, finished on January 2019. The VINEYARD express goal was to develop energy-efficient, accelerator-based servers and technology for enabling the efficient, seamless integration of hardware acceleration in the data center. The deployment of energy-efficient hardware accelerators was used to improve significantly the performance of Cloud-computing applications and reduce the energy consumption in data centers. In the years that passed since project start, the VINEYARD vision has seen its realization as the deployment of hardware accelerators in the Cloud: In 2017, hyperscalers like Amazon, Huawei, Alibaba and Baidu offered FPGA resources to their Cloud users.

VINEYARD developed novel energy-efficient platforms by integrating two types of hardware accelerator: A new-generation dataflow-based accelerator and a novel architecture for FPGA-based (control-flow) accelerators. The dataflow engines (DFEs) are suitable for high-performance computing (HPC) applications that can be effectively represented with dataflow graphs while the latter are used for accelerating applications that need tight communication between the processor and the hardware accelerator(s).

On the technology front, during the VINEYARD project, Maxeler developed the next generation of DFEs featuring a novel, high-performance architecture. The new MAX5 achieves 3x higher compute performance and 2x lower energy than previous-generation DFEs. Also, the MAX5 is fully compatible for deployment in the Cloud (e.g. compatible with Amazon AWS F1 instances).

At the same time, Bull developed many prototypes of discrete/integrated FPGA-accelerated server based on Intel’s Skylake/CascadeLake CPUs and Arria10/Stratix10 FPGAs. The transformation of one of these prototypes into a commercial product is planned for 2019. Such product will offer a low-latency communication interface between the CPUs and accelerators and will intend to evolve towards an extension of computation nodes within HPC systems.

VINEYARD developed also a high-level programming framework that allows the seamless integration of heterogeneous hardware accelerators (e.g. CPUs, GPUs, FPGAs, DFEs) in modern data centers. The VINEYARD framework allows end-users to seamlessly utilize these accelerators in heterogeneous computing systems by using typical cluster frameworks (i.e. Spark). The chief breakthrough of the VINEYARD framework lies in the ability to hide from the users the programming complexity of the heterogeneous computing system and allow them to focus on application coding.

A central repository called AccelStore (www.accel-store.com) has been created that is used to host hardware-accelerator IP for use in heterogeneous computing systems. The community can upload their individual hardware-accelerator IP in AccelStore which can, in the future, be used to brokerage the licensed use of such IP by 3rd parties.
The project has developed a comprehensive VINEYARD accelerator suite, a collection of hardware accelerators in the form of IP cores that is used to evaluate the VINEYARD framework on real use-case applications.
Specifically, VINEYARD extended its original list of targeted applications and, by project conclusion, developed the following extended list of heterogeneous-accelerator IPs:
• Neurocomputing applications:
• Financial applications
• Data analytics
• Machine learning

VINEYARD dissemination and communication activities:
o 21 peer-reviewed conference papers
o 3 peer-reviewed journal papers (accepted in Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems)
o 4 co-organized workshop with other EU projects (HiPEAC CSW, Samos)
o 4 newsletters
VINEYARD fostered the establishment of an ecosystem (www.accel-store.com) that empowers open innovation based on hardware accelerators as data-center plugins, thereby facilitating innovative enterprises (large industries, SMEs, and creative start-ups) to develop novel solutions using the VINEYARD framework.
The accelerator-based platforms allows the reduction of the energy-consumption by more than 5x in widely-used applications and allows up to 36x speedup.
Finally, the developed frameworks (VineTalk suite) and the programming models allows software users to deploy and instantiate seamlessly hardware accelerators in order to speedup their applications.
VINEYARD block diagram
VINEYARD logo