Category Archives: OpenPower

IBM, partners score 7 nm semiconductor breakthrough

IBM, Samsung and Globalfoundries claimed a 7nm semiconductor breakthrough

IBM, Samsung and Globalfoundries claimed a 7nm semiconductor breakthrough this week

Giving Moore’s Law a run for its money, IBM, Globalfoundries and Samsung claimed this week to have produced the industry’s first 7 nanometre node test chip with functioning transistors. The breakthrough suggests a massive jump in low-power computing power may be just on the horizon.

IBM worked with Globalfoundries, the chip division it divested in October last year, and Samsung specialists at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (SUNY Poly CNSE) to test a number of silicon innovations developed by IBM researchers including Silicon Germanium (SiGe) channel transistors and Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography integration at multiple levels, techniques developed to accommodate the changing nature of the rules of physics that apply at such small scales.

Most microprocessors found in servers, desktops and laptops today are developed with 22nm and 14nm processes, and mobile processors are increasingly being developed with 10nm processors, but IBM claims the 7nm process developed by the semiconductor alliance enjoys 50 per cent area scaling improvements over today’s most advanced chips.

IBM said the move could result in the creation of a chip small and powerful enough to “power everything from smartphones to spacecraft.”

“For business and society to get the most out of tomorrow’s computers and devices, scaling to 7nm and beyond is essential,” said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president and director of IBM Research. “That’s why IBM has remained committed to an aggressive basic research agenda that continually pushes the limits of semiconductor technology. Working with our partners, this milestone builds on decades of research that has set the pace for the microelectronics industry, and positions us to advance our leadership for years to come.”

The companies also said the chips have a 50 per cent power-to-performance improvement over existing server chips, and could be used in future iterations of Power architecture, IBM’s mainframe architecture which it open sourced in a bid to improve its performance for cloud and big data workloads.

IBM has in recent months ramped up silicon-focused efforts. The company is partnering with SiCAD to offer a cloud-based high performance services for electronic design automation (EDA) which the companies said can be used to design silicon for smartphones, wearables and Internet of Things devices. Earlier this month the company also launched another OpenPower design centre in Europe to target development of high performance computing (HPC) apps based on the Power architecture.

IBM releases tool to advance cloud app development on OpenPower, OpenStack

IBM has announced a service to help other develop and test OpenPower-based apps

IBM has announced a service to help other develop and test OpenPower-based apps

IBM announced the launch of SuperVessel, an open access cloud service developed by the company’s China-based research outfit and designed for developing and testing cloud services based on the OpenPower architecture.

The service, developed by Beijing’s IBM Research and IBM Systems Labs, is open to business partners, application developers and university students for testing and piloting emerging applications that use deep analytics, machine learning and the Internet of Things.

The cloud service is based on the latest Power8 processors (with FPGAs and GPU-based acceleration) and uses OpenStack to orchestrate the underlying cloud resources. The SuperVessel service is sliced up into various “labs”, each focusing on a specific area, and is initially launching with four: Big Data, Internet of Things, Acceleration and Virtualization.

“With the SuperVessel open computing platform, students can experience cutting-edge technologies and turn their fancy ideas into reality. It also helps make our teaching content closer to real life,” said Tsinghua University faculty member Wei Xu. “We want to make better use of SuperVessel in many areas, such as on-line education.”

Terri Virnig, IBM Vice President of Power Ecosystem and Strategy said: “SuperVessel is a significant contribution by IBM Research and Development to OpenPower. Combining advanced technologies from IBM R&D labs and business partners, SuperVessel is becoming the industry’s leading OpenPower research and development environment. It is a way IBM commits to and supports OpenPower ecosystem development, talent growth and research innovation.”

The move is part of a broader effort to cultivate mindshare around IBM’s Power architecture, which it opensourced two years ago; it’s positioning the architecture as an ideal platform for cloud and big data services. Since the launch of the OpenPower Foundation, the group tasked with coordinating development with Power, it has also been actively working with vendors and cloud service provider to mashup a range of open source technologies – for instance, getting OpenStack to work on OpenPower and Open Compute-based hardware.

OpenPower members reveal open source cloud tech mashups

OpenPower members have been busy creating open source server specs based on the Power8 architecture

OpenPower members have been busy creating open source server specs based on the Power8 architecture

OpenPower Foundation members pulled the curtain back on a number of open source cloud datacentre technologies including the first commercially available OpenPower-based server, and the first open server spec that combines OpenStack, Open Compute and OpenPower architectures.

Members of the open source hardware community, which IBM – the community’s founding organisation – said now numbers over 110 organisations, revealed a number of joint hardware initiatives falling under the OpenPower umbrella.

The Foundation announced the first OpenPower-based servers, developed by Chinese ODM Tyan (TYAN TN71-BP012), a variant of those IBM recently said it would add to its SoftLayer datacentres. The servers will be commercially available in the second half of 2015.

IBM and Wistron also revealed an OpenPower-based server using GPU and networking technology from Nvidia and Mellanox, respectively, which is being aimed at high performance compute workloads.

The foundation also announced the first server spec and motherboard mock-up combining the design concepts of the Facebook-led open source hardware project, Open Compute, with OpenStack and OpenPower technologies, an initiative Rackspace – among other service providers with a vested interest all three open source projects – was keen to bring to fruition.

“Collaborating across our open development communities will accelerate and broaden the raw potential of a fully open datacentre. We have a running start together and look forward to technical collaboration and events to engage our broader community,” said Corey Bell, chief executive officer of the Open Compute Project.

In an interview with BCN earlier this month Brad McCredie, IBM fellow and vice president of IBM Power Systems Development and president of the OpenPower Foundation said there is a big opportunity for Power to succeed in the market, and that IBM hopes to claim up to 30 per cent of the scale-out market in a matter of years.

Ken King, general manager OpenPower Alliances at IBM said: “OpenPower started off as an idea that immediately resonated with our technology partners to strengthen their scale out implementations like analytics.  Now, OpenPower is fundamental to every conversation IBM is having with clients — from HPC to scale out computing to cloud service providers.  Choice, freedom and better performance are strategic imperatives guiding customers around the globe, and OpenPOWER is leading the way.