For once, there will be a ceasefire in the war between major chip architectures x86, ARM and Power9, which will all be used in a supercomputer being built in Barcelona.

The MareNostrum 4 is being built by the Barcelona Supercomputing Center and will have three clusters, each of which will house Intel x86, ARM and Power9 chips. Those clusters will be linked to form a supercomputer that will deliver up to 13.7 petaflops of performance.

All three architectures have never been implemented together in a supercomputer, let alone PCs or servers. It raises questions on how the architectures will work together.

The three chip architectures are fundamentally different. An application written to take advantage of a specific architecture won’t work on another, but server architectures are changing so different types of systems can coexist. Linux supports x86, ARM and Power, so it’s possible to write applications to work across architectures.

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