The Next Step in the OpenPOWER Foundation Journey

Published on Tuesday 20 August 2019


Hugh Blemings, Executive Director, OpenPOWER Foundation

Today marks one of the most important days in the life of the OpenPOWER Foundation. With IBM announcing new contributions to the open source community including the POWER Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) and key hardware reference designs at OpenPOWER Summit North America 2019, the future has never looked brighter for the POWER architecture.

OpenPOWER Foundation Aligns with Linux Foundation

The OpenPOWER Foundation will now join projects and organizations like OpenBMC, CHIPS Alliance, OpenHPC and so many others within the Linux Foundation. The Linux Foundation is the premier open source group, and we’re excited to be working more closely with them.

Since our founding in 2013, IEEE-ISTO has been our home, and we owe so much to its team. It’s as a result of IEEE-ISTO’s support and guidance that we’ve been able to expand to more than 350 members and that we’re ready to take the next step in our evolution. On behalf of our membership, our board of directors and myself, we place on record our thanks to the IEEE-ISTO team.

By moving the POWER ISA under an open model - guided by the OpenPOWER Foundation within the Linux Foundation - and making it available to the growing open technical commons, we’ll enable innovation in the open hardware and software space to grow at an accelerated pace. The possibilities for what organizations and individuals will be able to develop on POWER through its mature ISA and software ecosystem will be nearly limitless.


The Impact of an Open POWER ISA and Open Source Designs

We’ve heard in the past that developing a full featured core like POWER can be complicated – but that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, we believe the open source community can leverage the contributions made by IBM rather quickly.

In addition to open sourcing the POWER ISA, IBM is also contributing a newly developed softcore to the community. In a very short time, an IBM engineer was able to develop a softcore on the POWER ISA, and get it up and running on a Xilinx FPGA. This softcore implementation is being demonstrated this week at OpenPOWER Summit North America.

“This is the first tangible outcome of the opening of the POWER ISA,” said Mendy Furmanek, President, OpenPOWER Foundation and Director, OpenPOWER Processor Enablement, IBM. “It’s an example of the type of innovation that can be brought forward by the community as a result of newly open-sourced contributions.”

IBM is also contributing reference designs for OpenCAPI and Open Memory Interface (OMI) to the open source community. OpenPOWER Foundation and OpenCAPI Consortium member Microchip Technology was recently awarded Best Of Show at Flash Memory Summit 2019 for its newly announced serial memory controller, which leverages interface designs IBM is contributing.

While these designs are architecture-agnostic, they will help to grow and advance the OpenPOWER ecosystem. OpenPOWER Foundation partners including IBM and Google share their perspectives on the news in Microchip’s announcement of the SMC 1000 8x25G.

Excitement From the OpenPOWER Ecosystem

We’ve already heard incredibly positive feedback on today’s announcements from a number of our partners:

  • As the Chairman of the OpenPOWER Foundation Board of Directors, it’s an honor to share in such a tremendous moment with our community. The opening of the POWER ISA and alignment of the OpenPOWER Foundation with the Linux Foundation is a reflection of our mature, sustainable and growing ecosystem. These changes will result in more consortia-driven initiatives and allow more diverse, innovative products and solutions to be brought to market. – Artem Ikoev, Chairman of the OpenPOWER Foundation Board of Directors, Co-founder and CTO, Yadro


  • “Inspur Power Systems has a rich portfolio based on both Power and OpenPOWER that is realizing growth in the China market. Recently, Inspur Power Systems has developed and announced industry-leading OpenPOWER products in storage, datacenter, AI and big data. We receive positive feedback from our customers citing TCO and performance advantages as well as value in the openness of OpenPOWER technology and software stack. Inspur Power Systems is very excited about the possibilities today’s announcements offer to the OpenPOWER ecosystem, our company and of course our clients. We congratulate IBM and the OpenPOWER Foundation for showing leadership in taking these steps.” - John Hu, General Manager, Inspur Power Systems


  • “At Raptor Computing Systems our top priority has always been owner controlled, auditable systems. The release of the POWER ISA is key to making POWER the definitive go-to architecture not only for security-sensitive applications, but for any application that is intended to last. With this single, vital step, Raptor Computing Systems can now offer truly high performance systems with absolutely no compromises on user freedom. Make no mistake, this is a milestone for the industry – computing as it should have been, and can be again, thanks to IBM’s willingness to embrace open systems and Raptor Computing Systems’ commitment to owner control.” - Timothy Pearson, CTO, Raptor Computing Systems


  • “At the University of Oregon, we are committed to supporting the OpenPOWER platform and developing tools that help improve the quality and efficiency of the software developed on this platform. The tools developed at the University of Oregon include the TAU Performance System(R), in use at supercomputing sites around the world, for evaluating the performance of HPC and AI workloads. The release of the POWER ISA is an important milestone in developing the software ecosystem on the OpenPOWER platform.” Sameer Shende, Director, Performance Research Laboratory, University of Oregon


  • “Wistron Enterprise Business Group has enjoyed a long and productive relationship with the OpenPOWER Ecosystem and was one of the first members of the OpenPOWER Foundation when we joined in 2014. We understand the many benefits of Open—solutions built on our POWER9  “MiHawk” server has a great combination of high performance and ability to run an entirely open software stack, from firmware to applications. By leveraging POWER9s impressive memory capability, PCIe Gen4, and OpenCAPI technologies this server excels in AI, cloud, and BigData. We’re excited to see IBM and the OpenPOWER Foundation take the ecosystem to the next level of openness with the announcements today and are already considering how we can best leverage this for the benefit of our customers. ” - William Lin, President, Enterprise Business Group, Wistron


  • “Rambus joined the OpenPOWER Foundation in November of 2016 and has been actively developing a research platform for hybrid memory systems. As advocates for open hardware standards we’re pleased to see the POWER ISA opened up, a positive step for the overall ecosystem and industry.” - Gary Bronner, Senior Vice President of Rambus Labs


  • “SUSE has been part of the POWER/OpenPOWER story from the start, with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server being one of the first commercially supported distributions on the architecture. As a long-time participant in open technical communities, software and more recently hardware, it’s great to see IBM and the OpenPOWER Foundation continuing their drive toward a truly open hardware and software stack that’s enterprise-ready. We look forward to the next generation of systems resulting from these ongoing efforts.” - Alan Clark, Director of Industry Initiatives, Emerging Standards and Open Source, SUSE


  • “We are delighted to see that OpenPOWER is continuing to forge ahead with opening up every aspect of its computing architecture. This is allowing true innovation from experts across the entire ecosystem toward a rapid product development cycle that our industry desperately needs as we shift to Heterogeneous Distributed Computing architectures. In particular Molex & BittWare are looking forward to potentially leveraging the new OMI, Open Memory Interface, IP and DDIMMs in our future FPGA accelerators.” - Allan Cantle, CTO, Molex ISI Group


  • “SmartDV™ Technologies, the proven and trusted choice for Verification Intellectual Property (IP), is extremely excited to see OpenCAPI moving to an open source IP model. OpenCAPI is an important new development that enables data to move through the system more efficiently in the areas of accelerators, networking and storage, as well as general compute off-load. We at SmartDV believe that having an ecosystem where industry leaders can drive innovation through an open environment is critical for mass adoption and acceptance. And at SmartDV we offer the first commercially available OpenCAPI Bus Functional Model that supports OpenCAPI 3.0 as well as 3.1 to verify OpenCAPI initiatives that includes an extensive test suite that performs random or directed protocol tests to create a range of scenarios to effectively verify the design under test. SmartDV is also offering a synthesizable OpenCAPI transactor for emulation and/or FPGA prototyping as well as a System C version of the OpenCAPI Bus Functional Model.” - Barry Lazow, Vice President, Worldwide Sales and Marketing, SmartDV Technologies


  • “T&VS are a leading global provider of test and verification services that help companies deliver world-class hardware and software products that are reliable, safe and secure. To meet the challenges of today’s complex systems, the industry needs to continue to evolve. We are excited about the new open hardware technologies announced today, and the opportunities it brings to us and to the overall ecosystem. As a services company built on a deep understanding of the latest methodologies, we are ready to support the emerging open hardware development landscape.” - Dr. Mike Bartley, Founder and CEO of T&VS


Thank you to all of our OpenPOWER Foundation members and the open source community for your support at this significant juncture for our Foundation. I’d love to hear any feedback you have. Please leave a comment below, send me an email, or consider joining us at our upcoming OpenPOWER Summit Europe!


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