IBM, Google, Others Push OpenCAPI Spec for Data Center Workloads
The OpenCAPI Consortium is looking to challenge Intel's dominance with an open interconnect standard that will make servers faster.IBM, Google and Mellanox Technologies are among the founders of a new industry consortium that promises to speed up server performance by up to 10 times at a time when emerging workloads such as data analytics and artificial intelligence are rapidly increasing the workloads on systems. The OpenCAPI Consortium is developing an open standard based on IBM's Cache-Coherent Accelerator Processor Interconnect (CAPI) technology that will be used to connect CPUs, graphics cards, networking, memory, storage and other components within the system, a job now done by such technologies as PCIe 3.0. However, the new OpenCAPI standard will offer data speeds of up to 150 GB/s, or about 10 times faster than PCIe 3.0, according to consortium members. OpenCAPI will enable systems to more tightly integrate the various components, and server makers will be able to design new systems that will put the compute power closer to the data and remove bottlenecks, all of which will improve performance. Other founding members of the consortium are system makers Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Dell EMC and chip and GPU makers Advanced Micro Devices, Micron, Nvidia and Xilinx. Notably absent is Intel, the dominant player in the server chip market that is going its own way on developing interconnect technologies.
Two key drivers for the new open standard are the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, which are forcing systems to collect and analyze massive amounts of information, and the need for accelerators like GPUs and field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) to work with CPUs to process the data, Brad McCredie, IBM Fellow and vice president of Power development, told eWEEK.