ARM sets sights on high-performance computing with Allinea Software acquisition

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ARM Ltd., the U.K.-based semiconductor intellectual property supplier now owned by Japan’s SoftBank Corp., has acquired Allinea Software, a U.S. firm that provides cross-platform and performance analysis tools for 80 percent of the world’s 25 most powerful supercomputers.

Announcing the deal Friday, ARM said that the move would extend its portfolio of development tools for the data analytics, high-performance computing and machine learning markets.

More importantly perhaps, the move could well see a shift in the design of x86-dominated advanced scale computing environments towards alternative processors. ARM is better known for designing fast, low-cost, power-efficient RISC processors that power mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. However, in recent years, companies such as Qualcomm Inc., which licenses ARM’s designs, have been pushing into newer markets – in particular targeting data center servers.

“It’s self-evident that HPC – and, more widely, parallel and distributed computing – is at a fascinating, exciting point,” Allinea founder and Chief Executive David Lecomber said in a blog post. “We want to expand the reach of Allinea’s tools to both embrace the evolution within HPC and to engage with new markets and technologies. In doing so, we can make sure that we continue to thrive and to invest in order to provide tools that are relevant to the challenges of HPC as HPC evolves.”

Allinea Software may not be a household name, but the company does boast some significant customers, including NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, numerous universities and supercomputing labs, and a host of private companies that use HPC for scientific computing. Allinea’s main product is a developer suite called Allinea Forge, which comes with a performance analyzer called Allinea MAP, an application debugger called Allinea DDT, and a system analysis tools called Allinea Performance Reports. These tools can support multiple processor architectures in HPC environments, and are used on systems powered by hundreds of thousands of processing cores.

ARM, which has already made some tentative steps in the HPC business, said the acquisition will bolster its long-term growth strategy in HPC. Recent moves in HPC include partnering with Fujitsu Ltd. on its 64-bit ARMv8-A-powered Post K supercomputer. In addition, ARM recently said that ARMv8-A will become the first alternative architecture to be supported by the Intel Corp.-backed OpenHPC Consortium, who’s stated mission is to “provide an integrated collection of HPC-centric components that can be used to provide full-featured reference HPC software stacks.”

“Allinea’s ability to debug and analyze many-node systems is unique, and with this acquisition we are ensuring that this capability remains available to the whole ARM ecosystem, and to the other processor architectures prevalent in HPC, as well as in future applications such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and advanced data analytics,” said Javier Orensanz, general manager of the development solutions group at ARM.

Image courtesy of ARM via Facebook