OpenPOWER Foundation Details New Server Designs

by Sean Michael Kerner

Once solely the domain of IBM, multiple vendors are now building servers based on the POWER architecture.

IBM's efforts to open up development and advance the state of POWER server architecture deployment continues to pick up momentum as the OpenPOWER Foundation holds its second annual summit this week. The OpenPOWER Foundation itself is now only two years old, but has already been making solid gains.

The OpenPOWER Foundation now claims broad membership across 200 organizations around the globe. While much of activity at the outset of the organization was talk about making POWER open, that talk is now turning into reality with multiple vendors announcing their own POWER-based systems.

Among the non-IBM POWER systems is one being jointly developed by Google and Rackspace that makes use of the POWER9 architecture. The plan is for the new server to also become an open standard that is submitted to the Open Compute Project in the future.

Rackspace Barreleye POWER Server Progresses

Rackspace is also making progress on its Barreleye POWER server, moving from the testing development lab phase into a data center.PurePower

Rackspace first publicly embraced the OpenPOWER movement in December 2014, when it officially joined the group. At the time, Rackspace was not using POWER in its data centers.

In July of 2015, Rackspace first started up its Barreleye servers, working together with partners Avago, IBM, Ingrasys, Mellanox, PMC and Samsung.

The official specifications for the Barreleye server were submitted to the Open Compute project in January and formally accepted in February 2016.

"The Barreleye platform consists of a IBM POWER8 'Turismo' SCM (Single-Chip Module) Processor with IBM Centaur Memory Buffers, with PCI-E Gen 3 integrated on chip," the Open Compute Project specification states. "Barreleye uses OpenPOWER's open source system firmware, made available under open source licensing schemes."

The plan is to move Barreleye into Rackspace's data center to help power the Rackspace Public Cloud powered by OpenStack.

"OpenPOWER processors combined with acceleration technology are fundamentally changing server and data center design today and into the future," Aaron Sullivan, Open Compute Project Incubation Committee Member and Distinguished Engineer at Rackspace, said in a statement. "OpenPOWER provides a great platform for the speed and flexibility needs of hyperscale operators as they demand ever-increasing levels of scalability."

Additionally, IBM is working in collaboration with NVIDIA and Wistron on POWER8-based servers that make use of NVIDIA Tesla P100 GPU accelerators.

"IBM intends to announce a next-generation Power Linux server optimized for high-performance computing (HPC) and high-performance data analytics (HPDA) that uses the NVIDIA NVLink high-speed interface to connect POWER8 CPUs with NVIDIA Tesla P100 GPU accelerators based on the Pascal architecture," Sumit Gupta is Vice President, High Performance Computing (HPC) Business Line Executive and OpenPOWER Operations, wrote in a blog post.

"We expect a whole new set of enterprise data analytics and cognitive applications will take advantage of GPU accelerators because of the CPU-GPU NVLink system architecture in this new server," Gupta continued.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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This article was originally published on Wednesday Apr 6th 2016
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