IBM, Google Team on OpenPOWER Consortium

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Rows of custom-built servers inside a Google data center. Will these soon be powered by IBM POWER microprocessors? (Photo: Google)

In a bid to reinvigorate its POWER processor architecture, IBM this week announced a new development alliance called the OpenPOWER Consortium, with Google, MellanoxNVIDIA and Tyan as initial members.

Battling a diminishing server market overall, on top of competition from the Open Compute Project and other industry initiatives, IBM hopes that OpenPOWER will build advanced server, networking, storage and GPU-acceleration technology on the POWER platform. The consortium makes POWER IP licensable to others and for the first time will make POWER hardware and software available to open development.

In doing this, IBM and the consortium can offer unprecedented customization in creating new styles of server hardware for a variety of computing workloads. IBM added variety to its own systems on Tuesday the addition of new FLEX systems with POWER processors.

“The founding members of the OpenPOWER Consortium represent the next generation in data-center innovation,” said Steve Mills, senior vice president, and group executive, IBM Software & Systems. “Combining our talents and assets around the POWER architecture can greatly increase the rate of innovation throughout the industry. Developers now have access to an expanded and open set of server technologies for the first time. This type of ‘collaborative development’ model will change the way data center hardware is designed and deployed.”

As a large maker of its own customized servers Google’s involvement in the consortium signals an interesting twist in the processor battleground. A year ago Intel noted that Google was in the top five of server manufacturers that account for 75 percent of Intel’s server chip revenues. There is nothing that guarantees Google will build POWER-based systems, but with Google’s love of open systems and drive to innovate its data centers, it is certainly a possibility.  NVIDIA and IBM will work together to integrate the CUDA GPU and POWER ecosystems.

“We are happy taking part in the OpenPOWER Consortium and its mission to further accelerate the rate of innovation, performance and efficiency for advanced data center solutions,” said Gilad Shainer, vice president of marketing at Mellanox Technologies. “Open source and community development are key to enabling innovative computer platforms and better serve the scalable and emerging applications in the areas of high-performance, Web 2.0 and cloud computing. Mellanox’s mission is to provide the most efficient interconnect solution for all compute and CPU architectures and deliver the highest return-on-investment to our users.”

IBM says OpenPOWER is open to any firm that wants to innovate on the POWER platform and participate in an open, collaborative effort

About the Author

John Rath is a veteran IT professional and regular contributor at Data Center Knowledge. He has served many roles in the data center, including support, system administration, web development and facility management.

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