IBM announces Power8

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Just five months after its incorporation, the OpenPower Foundation has released details of its first 'white box' server including a development and reference design from Tyan, along with firmware and operating system by IBM, Google, and Canonica.

The goal of the OpenPower Foundation is to create an open ecosystem, using IBM's Power Architecture, to share expertise, investment, and server-class intellectual property. It is an open, not-for-profit technical membership group incorporated in December 2013.

The OpenPower Software stack in the new white box design is targeted for ease of implementation in hybrid deployments. IBM noted it will be deploying systems using this hardware and software stack in SoftLayer later this year.

The new technology is intended to tackle big data applications by addressing accelerator technology at an early stage with their new systems while also aiming to make the systems as scalable as possible. The solutions aim to remove system-level bottlenecks by using technologies developed by the partners along with advanced Power8 interfaces such as IBM’s own Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (CAPI).

According to the OpenPower Foundation, Mellanox’ Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) technology increases throughput and decreases latency by up to 10 times by using a different key value store application. IBM highlighted that this improvement due to key value store applications could be enhanced further as the technology matures.

Further improvements will be made using the following supported technology:

  • NVIDIA GPU Accelerators – Nvidia is adding CUDA software support for Nvidia GPUs with IBM Power CPUs. IBM and Nvidia are demonstrating the first GPU accelerator framework for Java, showing an order of magnitude performance improvement on Hadoop Analytics applications compared to a CPU-only implementation. Nvidia will offer its NVLink high-speed GPU interconnect as a licensed technology to OpenPower Foundation members.

  • Xilinx and Altera FPGA accelerators with CAPI attach – IBM described two CAPI attach accelerator solutions, a memcached Key Value Store showing a 35X power/performance improvement with an order of magnitude latency reduction,  and Monte Carlo financial instruments models with a 200X speedup using Altera FPGAs with a CAPI attach.

  • Micron, Samsung Electronics, and SK Hynix memory – Each of these innovative memory companies is committed to supporting the OpenPower Foundation through the supply of more advanced memory and storage components for an open ecosystem. 

‘We are very pleased with the growth of the OpenPower community and the progress made by the Working Group members even at this early stage,’ said Gordon MacKean, Chairman, OpenPower Foundation. ‘The projects feeding the innovation pipeline to date will greatly enhance the performance of the next generation of servers by eliminating system-level bottlenecks.’

Formed by Google, IBM, Mellanox Technologies, Nvidia, and Tyan, the Foundation makes Power hardware and software available for open development, as well as Power intellectual property licensable to other manufacturers. OpenPower has grown to more than two dozen members including global hardware and software vendors.