NVIDIA unveils CPU for AI and HPC workloads

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NVIDIA has announced its first data centre CPU, an Arm-based processor that's capable of delivering 10x the performance of today’s fastest servers on the most complex AI and high performance computing workloads

The NVIDIA Grace CPU is able to address the computing requirements for advanced applications, including natural language processing, recommender systems and AI supercomputing, that analyse enormous datasets requiring both ultra-fast compute performance and massive memory.

The device combines energy-efficient Arm CPU cores with an innovative low-power memory subsystem to deliver high performance with great efficiency.

“Leading-edge AI and data science are pushing today’s computer architecture beyond its limits – processing unthinkable amounts of data,” said Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA. “Using licensed Arm IP, NVIDIA has designed Grace as a CPU specifically for giant-scale AI and HPC. Coupled with the GPU and DPU, Grace gives us the third foundational technology for computing, and the ability to re-architect the data center to advance AI. NVIDIA is now a three-chip company.”

Grace is a highly specialised processor targeting workloads such as training next-generation NLP models that have more than 1 trillion parameters. When tightly coupled with NVIDIA GPUs, a Grace CPU-based system will deliver 10x faster performance than today’s state-of-the-art NVIDIA DGX-based systems, which run on x86 CPUs.

While the vast majority of data centres are expected to be served by existing CPUs, Grace - named for Grace Hopper, the U.S. computer-programming pioneer - will serve a niche segment of computing.

Initial customers, according to Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, include the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) and Los Alamos National Laboratory who will buy supercomputers based on Grace built by HPE’s Cray group for delivery in 2023