University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Computer Laboratory Systems Research Group Seminar > Enzian: A Research Computer for Rack-Scale and Datacenter Computing

Enzian: A Research Computer for Rack-Scale and Datacenter Computing

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Abstract:

Traditional systems software research is facing a new challenge to
its relevance.  Modern hardware CAD systems, the drive to lower
power and "dark silicon", FPGAs, and other factors have made it
both easy, quick, and cheap for system vendors to build custom
hardware platforms.  Almost any function can now be put into
silicon or reconfigurable logic: the choice of exactly what
should be built is a short-term business decision based on
markets and workloads.
Such hardware qualitatively changes how systems, including system
software, should be conceived and designed.  However, most
published OS research in rack-scale, embedded, or datacenter
computing only uses affordable commodity platforms for which
documentation is available to researchers.  Academia and industry
practice are diverging.
Enzian is an attempt to build a computer at ETH Zurich (with help
from Cavium and Xilinx) to bridge this gap in a way not possible
with commodity hardware or simulation.  Enzian nodes closely couple
a server-class CPU SoC with a large FPGA in the same coherence
domain, with abundant network bandwidth to both chips.  It is
designed for maximum research flexibility, and can be used in many
ways: a high-end server with FPGA-based acceleration, a multiport
200Gb/s NIC supporting custom protocols and cache access, a
platform for runtime verification and auditing of system code, to
name but three.

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Systems Research Group Seminar series.

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