OpenPOWER Ecosystem Spurs Innovation in AI and Hyperscale Datacenters

Published on Sunday 18 March 2018


Industry leaders like Google, Uber, Hitachi, Inspur, and Atos came together with representatives from the 325 OpenPOWER Foundation members today at the OpenPOWER Summit 2018 in Las Vegas, NV, to discuss how OpenPOWER is helping to transform their businesses and fuel data-intensive workloads and AI innovations. Joining them were some of the world’s leading software, hardware and cloud vendors, who discussed over 100 new OpenPOWER-based products that they are bringing to market through collaborative innovation that provide differentiated benefits.

Putting POWER9 to Work

In December 2017 IBM revealed the all-new IBM POWER9 CPU, built from the ground-up for enterprise AI and other data-intensive workloads. Thanks to the Foundation’s model of open collaboration, members are already revealing their own POWER9-based products. In a panel discussion of some of the world’s leading hardware vendors, panelists from Wistron, Hitachi, Inspur, Rackspace, and Atos, all detailed how their customers and the industry are looking for x86 alternatives, and with industry-exclusive technology like next-generation NVIDIA NVLink, OpenCAPI and PCIe Gen4, POWER9 is a great fit.

“Through its Escala server product line Atos, a global leader in digital transformation, has been actively contributing to Power technology for over 25 years”, said Rene Verkerk, Business Unit Director, Escala, Atos. “Through OpenPOWER, we are bringing leading edge developments such as Machine Learning, inference on FPGA’s and Open Source Databases into Enterprise class infrastructures and solutions with the performance of POWER9.

OpenPOWER innovators revealed over 100 new OpenPOWER-based products that take advantage of the latest Power innovations. As the only processor with OpenCAPI and PCIe Gen4, POWER9 gives OpenPOWER members nearly 10x the I/O bandwidth of x86 with shared memory coherence, opening up all new means to deliver value to their customers.

“Mellanox enables the highest interconnect bandwidth, lowest latency, and best efficiency for high performance, data intensive and artificial intelligence applications,” said Scot Schultz, senior director, HPC / Artificial Intelligence and Technical Computing at Mellanox Technologies, “The combination of Mellanox solutions and IBM POWER9 processor provides our customers with leading compute and storage infrastructure.”

“Our innovation with OpenPOWER Foundation members like IBM has created breakthrough technologies for accelerating HPC and AI,” said Ian Buck, vice president and general manager of the accelerated computing group at NVIDIA. “IBM and NVIDIA enabled the next-generation of GPU accelerated servers with NVIDIA NVLink to connect Power9 CPUs and Volta GPUs, and power the leadership class supercomputers at Oak Ridge and Lawrence Livermore National Labs”

Amongst the new solutions revealed announced were:

  • New POWER servers from Hitachi, Atos, Wistron, Inspur, Supermicro, Inventec, Rackspace, Gigabyte, Raptor, and more.
  • New OpenCAPI devices from Nallatech, Mellanox, Alpha-Data, Xilinx, Amphenol, Cavium, Rambus that take advantage of coherence and up to 9.5x more memory bandwidth than x86.
  • New PCIe Gen4 devices from Broadcom, NEC, and Eiditicom that accelerate storage, networking, and compute functions on OpenPOWER platforms.
  • New OpenPOWER-compatible software offerings from ISVs H20, brytlyt, MapD, Elinar Oy, and more that drive AI and modern data workloads.
  • See the complete list of new products here.

Forecasting OpenPOWER Clouds with a Mix of AI

As more and more OpenPOWER-driven offerings come to market, the availability and versatility of tools for datacenters continues to expand, and already forward-thinking organizations are seeing the benefits.

  • Google announced that their IBM POWER9-based server, Zaius, is deployed and in the process of scaling up in their Data Center. Google’s Maire Mahoney declared Zaius “Google Strong” and they are actively adding new production workloads onto Zaius and POWER9.
  • Uber revealed that they intend to push the boundaries of distributed deep learning and make Horovod, one of their AI projects, successfully scale on extremely large clusters and supercomputers by using the Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Labs. Horovod is one of Uber’s many AI initiatives, and machine learning helps the company in everything from identifying fraudulent accounts to better driver routing and more accurate pricing.
  • PayPal used IBM’s OpenPOWER Systems and PowerAI to accelerate deep learning research for fraud prevention by unlocking the computation power on extra large datasets with the Power architecture.
  • Tencent, a hyperscale datacenter provider, recently purchased a number of OpenPOWER-based systems to add to its growing enterprise data center. With adoption of OpenPOWER technology, Tencent’s overall efficiency has improved by more than 30%, and with savings of 30% on rack resources and 30% on server resources.
  • Ali Cloud, the cloud arm of online retailer Alibaba, said they have included OpenPOWER-based servers on their Ali X-Dragon Cloud platform and have invited customers to this pilot platform. Deployed in less than a month, the ease of use and compatibility of the servers left Ali Cloud impressed.
  • LimeLight, who gives clients tools to help stream digital content like music and video, has embraced OpenPOWER to get around the PCIe Gen3 bottleneck on x86. By using PCIe Gen4 on POWER9, their clients can deliver content to their customers faster and with less buffering.

The announcements made today at the OpenPOWER Summit 2018 are inspiring and exciting. With these partners involved and new products available, the OpenPOWER ecosystem is poised to reach new heights in 2018 and beyond.

Click here to view a recording of keynote sessions at OpenPOWER Summit 2018.