OpenPOWER Picks Up Cloud Momentum

Mike Vizard
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Something approaching an ecosystem is starting to emerge around the OpenPOWER server architecture. At the OpenPOWER Summit 2015 conference this week, IBM was joined by Rackspace, NVIDIA, Tyan and Mellanox in showing off prototypes of servers based on the POWER8 processor.

Ken King, general manager for OpenPOWER alliances at IBM, says that the main goal is to establish OpenPOWER servers as a viable platform for application workloads running in the cloud. To that end, IBM formally announced that it will deploy OpenPOWER servers manufactured by Tyan in the IBM SoftLayer cloud.

Meanwhile, Rackspace unveiled an open server design and motherboard based on an OpenPOWER processor that the company intends to deploy in its data centers. Touted as the first truly open server environment, Rackspace plans to run the OpenStack cloud management software, making it the first platform the company has deployed using both open source hardware and software.

Finally, IBM in collaboration with NVIDIA, Mellanox and Wistron, previewed a high-performance computing (HPC) platform that IBM is saying will be five to ten times faster than an existing supercomputer.


King says that IBM and its partners expect organizations running Web applications at scale to embrace OpenPOWER servers. To that end, Kings says that IBM and its partners are especially focused on gaining share among cloud service providers at the expense of general-purpose servers based on x86 servers. Google, for example, has already shown a custom motherboard it built using POWER8 processors.

A key part of the OpenPOWER strategy, says King, is the ability for OpenPOWER to support multiple types of processor cores on the same motherboard using a Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface that enables those cores to be tightly integrated within the same server.

It remains to be seen just how many of these OpenPOWER servers will wind up supporting private clouds. But the one thing that is for certain is that when it comes to servers in the cloud, it’s starting to look like IT organizations may soon have a lot more options in terms of where they decide to host any given application workload.



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