OpenPOWER: The Rebel Alliance of the Industry


By Sam Ponedal, Social Strategist for OpenPOWER


Episode 8: OpenPOWER


A dark empire has spread across the Compute Galaxy. Driven by a zealous belief in an antiquated law, the empire seeks to place the universe’s IT practitioners under their repressive rule.

But a new force is rising. Seeking to define a new approach to hardware based on Open Acceleration and collaboration, the OpenPOWER Foundation’s 170+ member ecosystem is challenging the empire.

Driven by open innovation, the OpenPOWER Foundation is achieving new levels of performance…

(To see this crawl as it’s meant to be viewed, click here to

OK, I had to get that out of my system. If you’re like me, this is a week that you’ve been waiting on for a decade: the release of the next Star Wars film, The Force Awakens. Everyone is talking about it, arguably it’s one of the most anticipated events in cinema history.

As if I didn’t have enough to be excited about, at Supercomputing 2015 in Austin, TX last month, analyst Dan Olds coined OpenPOWER the “Rebel Alliance of the industry,” and I couldn’t agree more. Like a Wookie in a China shop this thought was bursting to get out, so I wrote it all down and examined the ways that OpenPOWER is like the Rebel Alliance.

First off what’s one of the most iconic symbols of the Rebel Alliance? That’s right, the X-Wing Fighter.

It’s versatile, powerful, and always gets the job done. When the Rebels need to take down the Death Star, they call on a squadron of X-Wings to target the exhaust port. For OpenPOWER, the X-Wing is the POWER8 processor. Its 4X thread per core improvement over x86 is reminiscent of the X-Wing’s four wings. Couple that with POWER8’s performance benchmarks showing greater than 20% performance over x86 and it’s clear that POWER8 is the workhorse of the OpenPOWER Rebel Alliance. This begs the question: if POWER8 is an X-Wing, what’s x86? That’s an easy one: a TIE fighter, and any Star Wars fan knows what happens when a TIE fighter and an X-Wing go at it.

IBM believes the future of HPC and Enterprise data centers is based on an accelerated data center architecture.  This architecture consists of accelerated computing, accelerated storage, and accelerated networking.   There are new accelerators, storage, and networking devices coming from several technology companies.

Accelerators are all about speed, and if you ever need to make the Kessel run you know that you need the fastest ship in the galaxy: the Millennium Falcon. Accelerator technology takes what the industry considered “fast” and jumps it to lightspeed. Coupled with the POWER8 processor, an accelerator can outrun any task, or Imperial Star Destroyer, thrown at it. Just don’t forget to check the negative power couplings.

But one of OpenPOWER’s strongest assets is its developers, who embody the ideals of open and collaboration, our own Jedi Order. Just as the Jedis are the defenders of truth and justice in the galaxy, so are our developers the custodians of innovation in an open hardware and software ecosystem. And like the Jedi Order, we know that it is important to train and provide tools to the next generation of OpenPOWER Developer so that they can hone their skills within the ecosystem.

That’s why we recently expanded Supervessel, OpenPOWER’s development cloud, to feature new GPU acceleration as a service, deep learning frameworks, and access to cloud-based FPGAs. Add to that our collaborations with the University of Texas’s TACC and Oregon State University’s Open Source Lab to offer free development resources available to anyone worldwide.

But the best part of the Rebel Alliance? That it is open to anyone seeking refuge and asylum from the Empire, and the same is true for OpenPOWER. Our collaborative ecosystem is welcoming to all joiners, and we maintain an open door for people seeking to revolutionize the data center through open hardware and open software. If you would like to get involved in OpenPOWER, read more about the different levels of membership and engagement. And for the latest news be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Thank you, and may the Open Source be with you.

_Y1O5015Sam Ponedal is an IBM Social Strategist responsible for OpenPOWER’s social presence. He is an avid tech enthusiast, geek, and nerd who uses puns way more than necessary in a professional environment. You can follow him on Twitter to see his latest.