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GSI Offers In-Memory Computing

July 21, 2020

Author: Linley Gwennap

Long known for its specialty memories, GSI Technology has modified its recipe to add a bit of computation, creating a data-center accelerator called Gemini. More specifically, the chip includes two million bits of computation, which the company calls bit processors. Together, they can perform 840 trillion Boolean operations per second. By embedding these tiny processors within the memory array, GSI also reduces the energy required to move data by 85% relative to a traditional CPU. This approach is well suited to large databases, particularly for searches and other algorithms that perform Boolean operations or other light computation on each entry.

The Gemini chip has 1,024 of what we call compute cores. Each core comprises 2,048 of these bit processors, forming essentially a 2,048-bit SIMD unit with 24 registers. The architecture natively computes only two operations—logical AND and NAND—but these operations can combine to create any logic or math function, albeit using multiple cycles. Four ARC CPUs feed instructions to the compute cores, minimizing the circuitry in each core. A 12MB L1 memory provides data to the cores. The chip employs TSMC’s 28nm HPC+ technology, a standard logic process.

Like other accelerators, Gemini offloads specific tasks from the host CPU. To simplify deployment in servers, GSI sells it on a standard PCIe card called Leda-G. This card contains 16GB of external DRAM to supplement Gemini’s on-chip memory. The company offers sample versions of Leda-G using 400MHz Gemini chips and expects to begin production by December. It also expects to sample a 600MHz version at that time. To minimize customer-software changes, the company provides a driver for certain Oracle Database functions. Customers can develop their own application code for Gemini using GSI’s Python and C++ compilers and tool chain.

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