Production of Baikal-based Desktop Supercomputer Starts
Using the COVID pause in its production plans, Hamster Robotics modified its Baikal-based mini-PCs, which resulted in the possibility to combine these computers into clusters for parallel computing and deployment of neural networks. The mass production of the new product has begun.
Cluster of Mini-PC
As it became known to CNews, Hamster Robotics, the Russian developer of electronics and robotics, had modified its HR-MPC-1 mini-computer running on the domestic Baikal processor and launched its serial production. After refining, it became possible to combine computers into clusters followed by running parallel calculations on a single system and deploying neural networks.
In fact, we are dealing with a desktop mini-supercomputer—a high-performance heterogeneous multiprocessor system. The parallel computer is built like a tower. For this purpose, a versatile mini-PC case has been developed, allowing to use it in both single and other assembly options of up to 10 pieces.
The length of mechanical tightening studs is the only constructive limitation in this case. In terms of simple integration (regardless of compactness considerations), the size of the cluster is reasonably unlimited.
To arrange parallel computer, individual computers are connected through the 1GB Ethernet port. In such a cluster, one mini-PC becomes the master PC and further parallelizes tasks between other mini-computers.
At the software level, no specialized software was created to combine mini-PCs with each other. Hamster points out that the computers are integrated according to the conventional MPI Message Passing Interface for parallel systems, for which the «bindings” to the C, C++, and Fortran languages exist.
Release Time and Price
As one of the heads of Hamster Roman Burmistrov told CNews, the new product could be on sale as early as from July 2020 but plans to commercialize the product had been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, the production of circuit boards for mini-PCs has started just now.
To date, all other necessary parts have also been paid for. Hamster has its own assembly production. The first production batch is expected at the end of September 2020. The company does not specify its volumes, counting on the demand from customers at the level of 50–100 thousand pieces per year.
In the context of the government’s policy on import substitution, according to Hamster, these customers include state institutions, state corporations, educational institutions, as well as companies working with the state, financial sector enterprises, and individuals. Earlier, from the words of Burmistrov, it was possible to conclude that Rosatom and Russian Railways had a prior experience with HR-MPC-1.
The computers are expected to go on sale in October—November 2020. The price for one mini-PC will be from $220 to $400 depending on its version.
Hamster does not disclose the cost of the HR-MPC-1 development, but emphasizes that it was entirely funded by the organization, without any government investment. In addition to Burmistrov, the main developers were his colleagues Maxim Borisov and Vladislav Stain.
The HR-MPC-1 employs the first processor from the domestic Baikal range—the 28-nm Baikal-T1 (new name BE-T1000) produced by Baikal Electronics”, but in the future, the new Baikal-M ARM-processor will also be used. The ALT Linux OS by Basalt SPO was selected for pre-installation.
The current processor has two superscalary p5600 MIPS 32 r5 cores. DDR3 RAM at 1,600 MHz is used. Power consumption is less than 5 Watts.
The new product is equipped with the 1Gb Ethernet, SATA 3.0, and M2 mSATA ports, USB 2.0, I2C, SPI, UART, RS-232, RS-485, HDMI, and VGA interfaces. The dimensions of one mini-PC are 135x115x35 mm, and the board used in it is 120x105 mm. Single mini-PCs are mounted to the back of the monitor.
The porting to the computer is expected for the neural networks creation library of the Russian Ashmanov Neural Networks.
What Are the Analogues?
As a concept, Burmistrov considers HR-MPC-1 to be an analogue of computers of the famous Intel range of productive desktop PCs of the NUC (Next Unit of Computing) family. These PCs do not take up much space, are easily transported, and are able to interact wirelessly with most of the periphery.
NUC was first introduced by Intel in 2013. The first generation operated on Celeron Sandy Bridge processors, the second—on the Core i3 and the Core i5 Ivy Bridge, and the third was based on the Haswell architecture.
In early 2017, the seventh NUC Baby Canyon family was introduced on Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 chips of Kaby Lake-Us TDP generation from 15 W to 28 W. In March 2018, Intel introduced NUC Hades Canyon based on the four-core Intel Core Kaby Lake processor with a Radeon RX Vega M GH graphics chip.
In November 2019, CNews wrote that Intel would discontinue seven NUC models and stop supplying them after February 2020. These included Crimson Canyon (NUC 8 Home) devices based on 10-nm Cannon Lake processors that had never become widespread.
At the end of January 2020, it was announced that Intel intended to develop the NUC range to increase performance while reducing overall energy consumption and maintaining the supercompact form factor of 10 x 10 cm.
Baikal Electronics is a joint venture between the T-Platforma Russian supercomputer developer and the T-Nano nanocenter of the RUSNANO’s Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs. The company specializes in the design of the ARM- and MIPS-based integrated chips and crystal systems. The company’s developments are designed for use in the energy-efficient computer and industrial systems with different performance and functionality.
For additional information, please visit baikalelectronics.ru