Google, IBM and Nvidia form datacentre consortium OpenPOWER

Big enterprise technology stakeholders including Google, IBM and Nvidia are forming a datacentre alliance called OpenPOWER

Big enterprise technology stakeholders including Google, IBM and Nvidia are collaborating to form an open development alliance for datacentres called OpenPOWER. The consortium will provide advanced server, networking, storage and graphics technology to give more control and flexibility to developers of next-generation, hyperscale and cloud datacentres.

The consortium also includes Chinese Ethernet provider Mellanox Technologies and server provider Tyan. The open development alliance’s offering will be powered by IBM’s POWER architecture – the company’s high-performance microprocessor product - and use Nvidia’s GPUs (graphics processing units).

The move makes IBM’s POWER hardware and software available to open development for the first time since its launch in the early 1990s, as well as makes its intellectual property (IP) licensable to others. This will “greatly expand the ecosystem of innovators on the platform”, according to IBM.

Developers will have access to an expanded and open set of server technologies for the first time, as well as an ecosystem of hardware, system software, and enterprise applications providing powerful computing systems. This, in turn, will bring a range of new technology choices to the enterprises and offer them more capabilities.

The consortium will offer open-source firmware – the software that controls basic chip functions to offer customisation for datacentre builders in creating new styles of server hardware for a variety of computing workloads such as hyperscale IT or cloud datacentre facilities.

Hyperscale IT is a distributed computing environment in which data volumes and workloads demand can increase exponentially, yet still be accommodated quickly and cost-effectively.

Earlier this year, Intel said it is developing a new server rack design architecture for hyperscale datacentres. But Intel is not part of this new datacentre consortium.

“This type of ‘collaborative development’ model will change the way datacentre hardware is designed and deployed,” said Steve Mills, senior vice-president and group executive, IBM Software & Systems. “The founding members of the consortium represent the next generation in datacentre innovation.”

Combining the talents and assets of each of the companies around IBM’s microprocessor architecture will help the datacentre industry innovate faster, according to the members of the alliance.

The consortium’s mission is to accelerate the rate of innovation, performance and efficiency for advanced datacentre solutions, said Gilad Shainer of Mellanox Technologies. The company will provide networking services for all compute and CPU architecture for datacentre designers.

“Open source and community development are key to enabling innovative computer platforms and better serve the scalable and emerging applications in the areas of high-performance computing, web 2.0 and cloud computing,” Shainer said.

Read more on Clustering for high availability and HPC