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Open Power Summit showcases high-end boards for data centres

Posted: 23 Mar 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IBM? Open Power Foundation? data centre? server? processor?

During its first Open Power Summit, IBM and an increasing number of partners have revealed several small but significant steps to carve a path for the Power processor outside the walls of IBM. The latest technology demonstrations by the Open Power Foundation could mean nothing else but to take on its main competitor, Intel.

The group seeks to provide an alternative source of high-end server technology with big data centres and international governments among the first to show interest. However, it still needs to recruit more members, develop and certify compliant products and deliver on a compelling road map.

The group, created by IBM and four partners in August 2013, now has 113 members. It revealed a handful of third-party boards and one chip using its Power technology.

"Not bad for a first year," said Brad McCredie, president of Open Power and an IBM fellow, who said nearly 100 designs are in the works.

Fifteen products at the event included three IBM designs and several networking cards and development platforms. Five of the latest products showed some promise Power is gaining traction, especially in China. These include: the CP1, a custom Power 8 designed by Suzhou PowerCore; RedPower, a motherboard from Zoom Netcom using two CP1 chips; a two-socket, 4U Power 8 server from China's Inspur; a one-socket, 1U server from China's ChuangHe; and a one-socket, 2U server from Tyan.

All five products hold the promise of shipping to OEMs and end users this year. Wang Xuesong, chair of Zoom Networks Co. Ltd (Shenzhen) which has 300 people and $60 million in revenues, said he expects to build thousands of the RedPower boards based on his own design and custom designs for server OEMs targeting customers across multiple industries.

IBM will make in its 22nm SOI process the CP1 chip for Suzhou PowerCore, IBM's only Power chip licensee to date. It includes a custom encryption module for the China market, but otherwise appears to be a straight Power 8 design.

A representative of KNS, an arm of Russia's National Computer Corp., its largest IT provider, also was on hand. An IBM representative said the group wants to buy as much as $30 million in Power servers and storage systems a year and ultimately build its own boards that, such as China's RedPower boards, add encryption to meet the requirements of government users.

The moves show governments in China and Russia will be early users for Open Power, following the footsteps of the U.S. which has long been a big customer for IBM's server technology. Whether that leads to broader business markets is still unclear.

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