OpenPOWER Open Hardware Shines at Open Source Summit North America

By: Hugh Blemings, Executive Director, OpenPOWER Foundation

“The OpenPOWER ecosystem includes the fastest and most open production systems available today – from workstation to hyperscale.” – Hugh Blemings, Executive Director, OpenPOWER Foundation

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the Linux Foundation’s Open Source Summit North America (OSS/NA) in Vancouver, Canada representing the OpenPOWER Foundation. The LF of course needs little introduction to this audience, but their OSS events really are a shining example of the power of Open communities and open collaboration.

In the OpenPOWER Foundation booth, we arranged to have hardware from one of our members to show off to attendees – the Talos II workstation from Raptor Engineering.

And what a workstation it is. As we received it, it was running the latest release of Debian, TDE desktop – all the usual fantastic tools you’d expect on a modern Linux Desktop. Of course the hardware runs just as sweet with Red Hat Linux/Fedora or SuSE/OpenSuSE.

It’s a nice fast machine, too. Two socket quad core Power9 goodness (32 Threads, woo!), Gen4 PCIe and lots of DDR4 RAM channels. You barely hear the machine when running due to its nice, thermally cool design. Turns out you can spec a machine up to 22 cores/socket for a monster 176 threads if you want, and it’ll still won’t heat up your room much.

(For the record, all this computing power did little to improve my gaming abilities when I tried Xonotic…)

Performance aside, there was one consistent theme in the majority of conversations we had with conference attendees that really resonated with folks – the openness of OpenPOWER systems. The Talos II as configured was running entirely libré software – bootloader/firmware, OpenBMC as well as the OS itself of course. Literally no executable binary blobs on the machine. In fact, when Raptor ships them you not only get source code for the software, you get schematics for the system too.

We’re very fortunate in the OpenPOWER ecosystem to have systems that demonstrate both the openness and breadth of what OpenPOWER represents – from workstation all the way to hyperscale. And while we did not have a Google/Rackspace Zaius/Barrelleye hyperscale server at the conference, it was very much there in spirit as an entirely open design (the hardware design is shared through the Open Compute Project).

This, we believe, makes OpenPOWER systems the fastest and most open production systems available today. No funny little black-box management engines running on the CPU either…

If you’d like to hear more about what’s happening across the OpenPOWER ecosystem, our OpenPOWER Summit Europe takes place next month in Amsterdam. With a theme of “Open the Future,” it will feature a bunch of technical sessions, an exhibition of solutions from our members and some industry changing announcements too! 

P.S. Oh and the two days before our event, check out the Open Compute Summit in the same conference centre