Crossing the Performance Chasm with OpenPOWER


Executive Summary

The increasing use of smart phones, sensors and social media is a reality across many industries today. It is not just where and how business is conducted that is changing, but the speed and scope of the business decision-making process is also transforming because of several emerging technologies – Cloud, High Performance Computing (HPC), Analytics, Social and Mobile (CHASM). 

High Performance Data Analytics (HPDA) is the fastest growing segment within HPC. Businesses are investing in HPDA to improve customer experience and loyalty, discover new revenue opportunities, detect fraud and breaches, optimize oil and gas exploration and production, improve patient outcomes, mitigate financial risks, and more. Likewise, HPDA helps governments respond faster to emergencies, analyze terrorist threats better and more accurately predict the weather – all of which are vital for national security, public safety and the environment. The economic and social value of HPDA is immense.

But the sheer volume, velocity and variety of data is an obstacle to cross the Performance Chasm in almost every industry.  To meet this challenge, organizations must deploy a cost-effective, high-performance, reliable and agile IT infrastructure to deliver the best possible business outcomes. This is the goal of IBM’s data-centric design of Power Systems and the OpenPOWER Foundation. 

A key underlying belief driving the OpenPOWER Foundation is that focusing solely on microprocessors is insufficient to help organizations cross this Performance Chasm. System stack (processors, memory, storage, networking, file systems, systems management, application development environments, accelerators, workload optimization, etc.) innovations are required to improve performance and cost/performance. IBM’s data-centric design minimizes data motion, enables compute capabilities across the system stack, provides a modular, scalable architecture and is optimized for HPDA.     

Real world examples of innovations and performance enhancements resulting from IBM’s data-centric design of Power Systems and the OpenPOWER Foundation are discussed. These span financial services, life sciences, oil and gas and other HPDA workloads. These examples highlight the urgent need for clients (and the industry) to evaluate HPC systems performance at the solution/workflow level rather than just on narrow synthetic point benchmarks such as LINPACK that have long dominated the industry’s discussion.    

Clients who invest in IBM Power Systems for HPC could lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) with fewer more reliable servers compared to x86 alternatives.  More importantly, these customers will also be able to cross the Performance Chasm leveraging high-value offerings delivered by the OpenPOWER Foundation for many real life HPC workloads.  


Sponsored by IBM
Srini Chari, Ph.D., MBA
[email protected]


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