80 Cores and Counting: SiPearl’s Rhea Delayed to 2025

SiPearl, a chip design company established in January 2020 and based in France, specializes in designing Arm-based chips for supercomputers. SiPearl is committed to creating high-performance, low-power microprocessors for Europe’s exascale supercomputers, thereby ensuring technological sovereignty in European high-performance computing projects, which have received funding from the European Commission.

Recently, SiPearl announced an increase in the core count of its Rhea processor from 72 to 80, with the project’s completion postponed to 2025.

Rhea processor

In 2021, SiPearl revealed its plans to launch the Rhea processor for artificial intelligence tasks and high-performance computing workloads, initially scheduled for 2023. However, due to various development challenges, SiPearl temporarily halted the project in early 2024, now anticipating prototype samples by early 2025. The exact market release date remains uncertain.

The Rhea processor boasts 80 cores based on Arm’s Neoverse V1 architecture (codenamed Zeus), each equipped with dual 256-bit scalable vector units and interconnected via Arm’s Neoverse CMN-700 mesh network. It features a unique memory subsystem with four HBM memory controllers and a 256-bit DDR5 memory controller, combining the high bandwidth of the former with the large capacity of the latter. Additionally, Rhea includes 104 PCIe 5.0 lanes.

Due to project delays, by the time Rhea is released, it will lag behind the most advanced market offerings by about two generations, raising concerns about its competitiveness in the era of Neoverse V2/V3. Initially planned with HBM2E and manufactured using TSMC’s 6nm process, Rhea now appears somewhat outdated. SiPearl may need to revise its design to keep pace with market advancements.

At the end of 2022, SiPearl announced a collaboration with AMD, leveraging the Rhea processor and the Instinct series compute cards to jointly develop an exascale supercomputer.