OpenPOWER Foundation Spurs Series of Technology Acceleration Announcements

IBM and several fellow OpenPOWER Foundation members revealed new technologies, collaborations and developer resources to enable clients to more deeply and more rapidly analyze data. The new offerings center on the tight integration of IBM’s open and licensable POWER processors with accelerators, dedicated high performance processors that can be optimized for computationally intensive software code.

“There is a need for systems that provide greater speed to insight --for data and analytics workloads to help businesses and organization make sense of the data, to outthink competitors as we usher in a new era of Cognitive Computing,” said Brad McCredie, IBM fellow and OpenPOWER Foundation president. “We’re developing of the industry's first open, high-speed interconnects between processors and accelerators.”               

Through an open, collaborative model, IBM and more than 90 members participating in the OpenPOWER Foundation’s Accelerators Working Group are developing and delivering a wide range of accelerator-based solutions.

As part of this latest round of announcements, IBM announced that the incorporation of NVIDIA Tesla K80 GPUs, the flagship offering of the NVIDIA Tesla Accelerated Computing Platform – coupled with Watson’s POWER-based architecture – accelerates Watson’s Retrieve and Rank API capabilities to 1.7x of its normal speed. This speed-up can further improve the cost-performance of Watson’s cloud-based services. For example, a call center agent responding to an individual’s health and insurance query can leverage Watson’s natural-language processing technology to obtain an answer in real-time even faster than before, potentially increasing customer satisfaction and lowering service costs. In addition to bolstering response time, the GPU acceleration also increases Watson’s processing power to 10x its prior performance.

IBM also said it is working with Mellanox, which has developed what it brands as “the world's first smart network switch,” the Switch-IB 2, designed to deliver an estimated 10x system performance improvement.

NEC also announced availability of its ExpEther Technology that is also suited for POWER architecture-based systems, along with plans to leverage IBM’s Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (CAPI) technology to deliver additional accelerated computing value.

Two OpenPOWER members, E4 Computer Engineering and Penguin Computing, announced new systems based on the OpenPOWER design concept incorporating IBM POWER8 and NVIDIA Tesla GPU accelerators.

IBM also said it has ported a series of key IBM Internet of Things, Spark, Big Data and Cognitive Era applications to take advantage of the POWER architecture with accelerators. 

IBM also announced that it and fellow OpenPOWER members have built a global network of physical centers and cloud-based services for no-charge access to accelerated POWER-based infrastructure. New and expanded resources include expanded GPU Services on SuperVessel. NVIDIA and IBM worked together to accelerate SuperVessel, a global cloud-based OpenPOWER ecosystem resource launched in June. SuperVessel now provides GPU-accelerated computing as-a-service capabilities, giving users access to high-performance NVIDIA Tesla GPUs to enable Caffe, Torch and Theano deep-learning frameworks to launch from the SuperVessel cloud.

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