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Cerebras Doubles Down With WSE2

April 27, 2021

Author: Linley Gwennap

After building the world’s first trillion-transistor processor, dwarfing all other chips, what do you do for an encore? For Cerebras Systems, the answer is: build a two-trillion-transistor processor. The company has quickly applied its unique wafer-scale technology to the 7nm node. The new WSE2 doubles the core count and memory size, enabling users to solve even bigger problems without ever going off chip. Cerebras announced the WSE2 at the recent Linley Spring Processor Conference. It will sell the 7nm design in its CS-2 system, with production scheduled for the third quarter.

The system takes up 15 rack units (RU), but power and cooling systems fill most of the box. A single WSE2 (not visible) sits in the upper-left quadrant of the system, which also contains FPGAs to map the wafer’s serial I/O to the dozen 100G Ethernet ports visible atop the unit. A standard rack can hold three CS-2 systems, but you’d better check with the electric company before flipping that switch, as each unit is rated at 23kW (maximum). The system features redundant pumps and power supplies to ensure high availability.

In the meantime, Cerebras has been racking up design wins for its CS-1 system, which entered production in November 2019 and sells for about $2.5 million. Most customers are supercomputer users accustomed to lofty power and price levels, including Argonne National Lab, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, and the University of Edinburgh’s supercomputing center. Pharmaceutical conglomerate GlaxoSmithKline also uses a CS-1, and Cerebras has other wins in biotech, heavy manufacturing, and the US military and intelligence community. These customers employ the CS-1 for a mix of scientific (HPC) and AI workloads.

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