The OpenPOWER Foundation is an open collaboration of industry users, vendors, research institutions and academia launched with 5 members in early 2014. The goal was to build an ecosystem to cooperate in creating solutions using IBM’s OpenPOWER architecture to create the first truly open source system by combining open-source software and open-source hardware.
Fast forward to March, 2015, now 113 members strong, the first OpenPOWER Foundation Summit was hosted as part of the GPU event in San Jose. As we describe here, Power Systems products figured prominently at IBM’s Interconnect 2015 conference. The Foundation event provided even more evidence of the market momentum and growing interest in OpenPOWER.
On display were 15 working products from component level up to systems, processors, platforms and solutions. This year, Foundation members have 100 active projects already underway; both with and without direct IBM involvement. Projects are focused on High Performance Computing (HPC), data center optimization, operating system optimization, IBM’s Watson, industry-specific devices from chips to systems, etc.
There was an interesting undercurrent during presentations and discussion with attendees. Where one might expect a strong technical slant, event attendees and Foundation members see their objectives in the clearly practical terms of enterprise problem solving. The goal is successful application of the latest technology to the solution of major problems. They are driving a fundamental shift in understanding the application of and accomplished with technology.
Usually, the talk is of how Moore’s Law i.e., the cost-benefit (more performance + less volume + lower cost) applies. Here the discussion was about accelerating the realization real payoffs from technology. It is about cost effective, rapid problem solution and achievement of enterprise goals whether profit, new medical protocols, discovery breakthroughs or curing life-threatening disease.
Brad McCredie, Foundation President, indicated that while technology remains important, the value needed comes from facilitating business model innovations. The OpenPOWER architecture provides more opportunities to productively cooperate (and compete), with a new vision that opens the door to the future.
Representatives from Altera, Google, IBM, Mellanox, Nallatech, Nvidia, Rackspace, TYAN, Suzhou Power, etc. documented how the Open Systems model delivers benefits to consumers, service providers, researchers and vendors. Though hard data is still scarce, available evidence also points to significant price/performance benefits. Linley Group comparing IBM prices with reseller estimates found Power8 processors can be nearly 50% lower than Xeon systems with x86 chips.
- a. PowerCore’s CP1 is the first POWER chip for the China market from a Chinese chip design company.
- b. Zoom Netcom’s new line of RedPOWER servers are the first Chinese OpenPOWER two-socket systems using the CP1 chip.
- c. ChuangHe and other Chinese OpenPOWER members described their designs for China-branded OpenPOWER systems using POWER8 processors.
- d. In 2014, the Chinese government formed a public-private partnership, China POWER Technology Alliance (CPTA) to integrate local Chinese and OpenPOWER ecosystem resources to accelerate their infrastructure upgrade.