IBM's Efforts at Openness Paying Dividends, Company Executive Says

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2016-07-05 Print this article Print
IBM executive

Also at the show in April, Google—an original OpenPower member—and Rackspace announced a project to create an OpenPower-based server design codenamed "Zaius," which they said they hope to contribute to the OCP. The dual-socket system will be powered by IBM's upcoming Power9 chip and will include OpenCAPI and Nvidia's NVLink connectivity, DDR4 memory and the Coherent Application Processor Interface (CAPI) acceleration technology.

Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, said IBM is moving in the right direction with its Power architecture. With OpenPower, the company has seen healthy growth in the number of members and products, and it is giving IBM the chance to grow Power's presence in the lucrative Chinese market. It also is giving IBM and Power the edge over ARM and its manufacturing partners—such as Qualcomm and Advanced Micro Devices—in the hunt to become the alternative to Intel in the data center, King told eWEEK.

He also applauded IBM's efforts around Linux. The company jumped onto the Linux-on-Power initiative about 10 years ago, but it had languished during that time.

"But they've really re-energized the effort over the past couple of years," King said. "IBM has been pulling Power back into a successful market dynamic over the last year or two."

Looking forward, Balog said there are several areas IBM needs to focus on, including hiring the right talent around open-source designs and chip development to help keep the company's drive moving forward. One of the places IBM will be looking is Intel, which in April announced it was cutting 12,000 jobs as part of a restructuring effort.

"We will be looking at the talent at Intel that seems to be leaving, for whatever reason," he said.

In addition, IBM will continue to focus on particular workloads—such as SAP's HANA in-memory computing environment, open-source databases and Java enterprise applications—and will continue growing its use of acceleration technologies, such as GPUs from Nvidia, field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) from Xilinx and its own CAPI product. IBM also will support Nvidia's upcoming NVLink interconnect technology, which will enable CPUs to communicate with other components faster than they can now with PCIe 3.0.

IBM is working with Nvidia and original design manufacturer (ODM) Wistron to build a next-generation Power8 system for high-performance computing (HPC) that will use Nvidia's Tesla P100 GPU accelerator, which was introduced in April. The first systems are expected to be available later this year.

Power9 also will play a significant role in the near future. The first of the chips will be Power9 SO, a 14nm design that will include 24 cores (twice that of Power8) and a new microarchitecture. Later in 2017, the Power9 SU with an enhanced microarchitecture should come, officials said in April. A third Power9 chip also may come next year. Between 2018 and 2020, 10nm and 7nm "partner chips" using the Power8 and 9 architectures may be available.

Power10, with a new microarchitecture, is due out in 2020.

Along with the Google-Rackspace Zaius server that will run on Power9, IBM also is working with Nvidia to develop the Power9-based Summit supercomputer, which will be a 200-petaflop system when it is deployed in 2018 at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.


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