From Vincent Zimmer’s twitter feed, Johan De Gelas has a story on Anandtech, discussing IBM’s OpenPOWER8.
So what caused us to investigate the IBM POWER8 as a viable alternative to the mass market Xeon E5s and not simply the high-end quad (and higher) socket Xeon E7 parts? A lot. IBM sold its x86 server division to Lenovo. So there is only one true server processor left at IBM: the POWER family. But more importantly, the OpenPOWER fondation has a lot of momentum since its birth in 2013. IBM and the OpenPOWER Foundation Partners like Google, NVIDIA, and Mellanox are all committed to innovating around the POWER processor-based systems from the chip level up through the whole platform. The foundation has delivered some tangible results:
* Open Firmware which includes both the firmware to boot the hardware (similar to the BIOS) …
* … as OPAL (OpenPOWER Abstraction Layer) to boot and launch a hypervisor kernel.
* Cheaper and available to third parties (!) POWER8 chips
* CAPI over PCIe, to make it easier to link the POWER8 to GPUs (and other PCIe cards)
* And much more third party hardware support (Mellanox IB etc.)
* A much large software ecosystem (see further)
The impact of opening up firmware under the Apache v2 license and BMC (IBM calls it “field processor”) code should not be underestimated. The big hyperscale companies – Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Rackspace – want as much control over their software stack as they can.