A performance analysis of the first generation of HPC-optimized Arm processors

Simon McIntosh-Smith*, James Price, Tom Deakin, Andrei Poenaru

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
501 Downloads (Pure)


In this paper we present performance results from Isambard, the first production supercomputer to be based on Arm CPUs that have been optimised specifically for HPC. Isambard is the first Cray XC50 ‘Scout’ system, combining Cavium ThunderX2 Arm-based CPUs with Cray’s Aries intercon- nect. The full Isambard system will be delivered in the summer of 2018, when it will contain over 10,000 Arm cores. In this work we present node-level performance results from eight early-access nodes that were upgraded to B0 beta silicon in March 2018. We present node-level benchmark results comparing ThunderX2 with mainstream CPUs, including Intel Skylake and Broadwell, as well as Xeon Phi. We focus on a range of applications and mini-apps important to the UK national HPC service, ARCHER, as well as to the Isambard project partners and the wider HPC community. We also compare performance across three major software toolchains available for Arm: Cray’s CCE, Arm’s version of Clang/Flang/LLVM, and GNU.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere5110
Number of pages13
JournalConcurrency and Computation: Practice and Experience
Issue number16
Early online date6 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2019


  • Arm
  • benchmarking
  • HPC
  • ThunderX2
  • XC50


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