Innov8 with POWER8 “Best in Show” Selected at InterConnect2015


By Terri Virnig, Vice President of Power Ecosystem and Strategy, IBM Systems

It is hard to believe that this semester’s Innov8 with POWER8 Challenge has come to a close. Over the course of the fall semester, we worked with three top universities – North Carolina State University, Oregon State University and Rice University – to provide computer science seniors and graduate students with Power Systems and the associated stack environment needed to work on two projects each. The students set out to tackle real-world business challenges with each of their projects, pushing the limits of what’s possible and gaining market-ready career skills and knowledge. To further support the collaboration, each of the universities were given an opportunity to work with industry leaders from the OpenPOWER Foundation, including Mellanox, NVIDIA and Altera.

This week at IBM InterConnect2015 in Las Vegas, students and their professors from each of the participating universities had the opportunity to showcase their projects at our InterConnect Solution Expo. The conference attracted more than 20,000 attendees and provided them with the opportunity to share the countless hours of research and hard work each of them have put into their projects.

Innov8 with POWER8

For those who have been following along over the past few months, you know that we’ve given our community of followers the opportunity to vote for their favorite project with our ‘Tweet your vote’ social voting platform. Before I share the winner of our “Best in Show” recognition, here’s a quick rundown of how the universities have taken advantage of the Power platform to work on truly innovative projects:

Innov8 with POWER8_NC State
North Carolina State University (NCSU)

  • NCSU’s projects addressed real-world bottlenecks in deploying big data solutions. NCSU built up a strong set of skills in big data, working with the Power team to push the boundaries in delivering what clients need, and these projects extended their work to the next level, by taking advantage of the accelerators that are a core element of the POWER8 value proposition.
  • Project #1 focused on big data optimization, accelerating the preprocessing phase of their big data pipeline with power-optimized, coherently attached reconfigurable accelerators in FPGAs from Altera. The team assessed the work from the IBM Zurich Research Laboratory on text analytics acceleration, aiming to eventually develop their own accelerators.
  • Project #2 focused on smart storage. The team worked on leveraging the Zurich accelerator in the storage context as well.

Innov8 with POWER8_OSU
Oregon State University (OSU)

  • OSU’s Open Source Lab has been a leader in open source cloud solutions on Power Systems, even providing a cloud solution hosting more than 160 projects. With their projects, OSU aimed to create strong Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings, leveraging the network strengths of Mellanox, as well as improving the management of the cloud solutions via a partnership with Chef.
  • Project #1 focused on cloud enablement, working to create an OpenPOWER stack environment to demonstrate Mellanox networking and cloud capabilities.
  • On the other end, for project #2, OSU took an open technology approach to cloud, using Linux, OpenStack and KVM to create a platform environment managed by Chef in the university’s Open Source Lab.

Innov8 with POWER8_Rice
Rice University

  • Rice University has recognized that genomics information consumes massive datasets and that developing the infrastructure required to rapidly ingest, perform analytics and store this information is a challenge. Rice’s initiatives, in collaboration with NVIDIA and Mellanox, were designed to accelerate the adoption of these new big data and analytics technologies in medical research and clinical practice.
  • Project #1 focused on exploiting the massive parallelism of GPU accelerator technology and linear programming algorithms to provide deeper understanding of basic organism biology, genetic variation and pathology.
  • For project #2, students developed new approaches to high-throughput systematic identification of chromatin loops between genomic regulatory elements, utilizing GPUs to in-parallel and efficiently search the space of possible chromatin interactions for true chromatin loops.

We are especially proud of the work that each and every one of the students has put into the Innov8 with POWER8 Challenge. As a result of social voting across our communities, it is our pleasure to announce that our 2015 Best in Show recognition goes to project “Genome Assembly in a Week” from Rice University! The team leader, Prof. Erez Aiden, and students, Sarah Nyquist and Chris Lui, were on hand at InterConnect2015 to receive their recognition at the Infrastructure Matters zone in the Solution Expo at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on Wednesday

Innov8 with POWER8_2

Being able to experience the innovative thinking and enthusiasm from our university participants has been such a privilege. Throughout the semester, each of the universities truly made invaluable contributions in the IT space. Thank you to all who voted and stopped by during the conference! We invite you to stay tuned for more updates on these projects at Edge2015. You can follow the teams on our Tumblr page.