The OpenPOWER Foundation is a collaboration around Power Architecture products initiated by IBM and announced as the "OpenPOWER Consortium" in August 6th 2013. IBM is opening up technology surrounding their Power Architecture offerings, like processor specifications, firmware and software and is offering this on a liberal license and they will be using a collaborative development model with their partners.
Power.org is still the governing body around the Power Architecture instruction set but specific implementations are now free to use under a liberal license granted by IBM. Processors based on IBM's IP can now be fabricated on any foundry and mixed with other hardware products of the integrator's choice.
IBM is using the word open to describe this project in three ways.
- They are licensing the microprocessor technology openly to its partners. They are sharing the blueprints to their hardware and software to their partners, so they can hire IBM or other companies to manufacture processors or other related chips.
- They will collaborate openly in an open-collaboration business model where participants share technologies and innovations with each other.
- Advantages via open source software such as the Linux operating system.
IBM is looking to offer the future POWER8 core and other future cores under the OpenPOWER initiative but they are also making previous designs available for licensing. Partners are required to contribute intellectual property to the OpenPOWER Foundation to be able to gain high level status.
The POWER8 processor architecture incorporates facilities to integrate it more easily into custom designs. The generic memory controllers are designed to evolve with future technologies, and the new CAPI (Coherence Attach Processor Interface) expansion bus is built to integrate easily with external coprocessors like GPUs, ASICs and FPGAs.
The OpenPOWER initiative will include firmware, the KVM hypervisor and little endian Linux operating system. The foundation has a site on GitHub for the software they are releasing as open source. As of July 2014, they have released firmware to boot Linux.
Google, Tyan, Nvidia and Mellanox are all founding members of the OpenPOWER Foundation. Nvidia is looking to merge their graphics cores and Mellanox to integrate their high performance interconnects with Power cores. Tyan is said to be working on servers using POWER8 and Google sees using POWER processors in its data centers as a future possibility. Altera announced support for OpenPOWER in November 2013 with their FPGA offerings and OpenCL software.
On January 19, 2014, the Suzhou PowerCore Technology Company and the Research Institute of Jiangsu Industrial Technology announced that they will join the OpenPOWER Foundation and license POWER8 technologies to promote and help build ecosystems around and design custom made processors for use in big data and cloud computing applications.
As of April 2014 Canonical, Chuanghe Mobile, Emulex, Hitachi, Inspur, Jülich Research Centre, Oregon State University, Teamsun, Unisource Technology Inc and ZTE are listed as members at various levels.
- Google, IBM, Mellanox, NVIDIA, Tyan Announce Development Group for Data Centers
- IBM opens up Power chips, ARM-style, to take on Chipzilla
- Open and Collaborative Development is the Future of Cloud Computing - IBM's A Smarter Planet blog
- IBM's OpenPower consortium with Nvidia, Google aims to advance datacenter
- IBM Forms OpenPower Consortium, Breathes New Life Into Power
- Open Sourced BIOS Helps Power8 Compete With X86
- IBM intros next-gen Power8 microprocessor, servers along with OpenPower roadmap
- IBM's new Power8 doubles performance of Watson chip
- IBM Gets Allies to Chip Away at Intel
- Altera Brings FPGA-based Acceleration to IBM Power Systems and Announces Support for OpenPOWER Consortium
- Suzhou PowerCore Technology Co. Intends To Use IBM POWER Technology For Chip Design That Pushes Innovation In China
- Suzhou PowerCore to Start Using IBM POWER Tech for New Chip Design in China
- IBM Announces that Samsung Electronics Joins OpenPOWER Foundation
- Samsung joins IBM, Google in OpenPower alliance
- OpenPOWER - Current members