Enzian: making systems software research relevant in the face of custom hardware
Lecture | August 29 | 1:30-2:30 p.m. | Soda Hall, 430, Wozniak Lounge
Prof. Timothy Roscoe, ETH Zurich
Academic research in rack-scale and datacenter computing today is hamstrung by lack of hardware. Cloud providers and hardware vendors build custom accelerators, interconnects, and networks for commercially important workloads, but university researchers are stuck with commodity, off-the-shelf parts.
Enzian is a research computer being developed at ETH Zurich (in collaboration with Cavium and Xilinx) which addresses this problem. An Enzian board consists of a server-class ARMv8 SoC tightly coupled and coherent with a large FPGA (eliminating PCIe), with about 0.5 TB DDR4 and nearly 500 Gb/s of network I/O either to the CPU (over Ethernet) or directly to the FPGA (potentially over custom protocols).
Enzian runs both Barrelfish and Linux operating systems. Many Enzian boards can be connected in a rack-scale machine (either with or without a discrete switch) and the design is intended to allow many different research use-cases: zero-overhead run-time verification of software invariants, novel interconnect protocols for remote memory access, hardware enforcement of access control in a large machine,
high-performance streaming analytics using a combination of software and configurable hardware, and much more.
By providing a powerful and flexible platform for computer systems research, Enzian aims to enable more relevant and far-reaching work on future compute platforms.