IBM Strengthens Commitment to Open Hardware Movement

Expanding its commitment to open source, IBM announced at The Linux Foundation Open Source Summit that it will be contributing implementation rights to key technologies to the open community.

IBM and the OpenPOWER Foundation have also announced that OpenPOWER will move under the Linux Foundation, and will operate consistently with the Linux Foundation's open governance principles

IBM said it is opening the POWER Instruction Set Architecture (ISA), which is critical to how hardware and software work together on POWER. With the ISA and other technologies being contributed to the open community, developers will have the tools to build new hardware that takes advantage of POWER's capabilities to process data-intensive workloads and create new software applications for AI and hybrid cloud built to take advantage of the hardware's capabilities.

IBM will also contribute other technologies, including a softcore implementation of the POWER ISA, as well as reference designs for the architecture-agnostic Open Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (OpenCAPI) and the Open Memory Interface (OMI). The OpenCAPI and OMI technologies help maximize memory bandwidth between processors and attached devices, critical to overcoming performance bottlenecks for emerging workloads like AI.

With this announcement, IBM is taking another significant step in driving innovation across the industry through open technology and open source, said IBM's OpenPOWER general manager Ken King.

With its $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat and this announcement, IBM becomes the only processor vendor and POWER becomes the only commercially-available architecture with a completely open system stack, from the foundation of the hardware through the software stack, noted King.

IBM co-founded OpenPOWER in 2013, with the aim of supporting the adoption of an open server architecture for computer data centers,  and since then the organization has grown to over 350 members that have produced hundreds of innovations around the POWER architecture.

Collaborating with OpenPOWER members Red Hat, NVIDIA, and Mellanox, IBM led the delivery of the two most powerful supercomputers in the world, the U.S. Dept of Energy's Summit and Sierra.  

IBM has contributed over 2 million lines of open source system firmware and system reference designs with extensive documentation around the POWER architecture to enable OpenPOWER system developers and will continue to work with OpenPOWER and the Linux Foundation to innovate on POWER.   

To learn more about the newly opened technology, read the IBM Systems blog post by King at