Announcing a New Era of Openness with Power 3.0


By Michael Gschwind, Chief Architect & Senior Manager, Power System Architecture, IBM 

I am excited to announce the availability of the next generation of the Power Architecture, ushering in a new era for systems. The new Power Instruction Set Architecture 3.0 (Power ISA 3.0) marks the first generation of architecture developed and released since the creation of the OpenPOWER Foundation, building upon and sustaining the growth of the Foundation’s open ecosystem of collaborative innovation.


The Power ISA 3.0 architecture reflects the values of our open ecosystem, enhancing the platform by continuing the evolution of the RISC ISA concepts pioneered by the Power Architecture to deliver high-performance scalable systems optimized around workload needs. The new architecture specification include enhancements such as:

  • Improved support for string and memory block operations with the vector string facility
  • Expanded little-endian support
  • Instruction fusion and PC-relative addressing in support of improved application portability
  • Hardware garbage collection acceleration
  • Enhanced in-memory database support
  • Interrupt and system call enhancements
  • Hardware support for the native Linux radix page table format

These new updates mean that the most important operations of a broad range of workloads will benefit from targeted optimizations to accelerate them even as speedups from semiconductor technology improvements can no longer be taken for granted.

Power ISA 3.0 supports the entire spectrum of application choices with a common architecture definition. This ensures the OpenPOWER ecosystem enjoys the same level of compatibility that IBM enterprise customers have enjoyed over the past three decades. Consequently, Power ISA 3.0 no longer has optional categories, or separate server and embedded ISA architecture options, as the new specification supports the entire range of implementations. This allows for simpler sharing of application and system software across the entire range of Power processor implementations, enabling software developers to more easily support a broader range of applications, and ensuring that OpenPOWER compliant applications truly support a “write once, run everywhere” application development model.

In addition, the new Power ISA 3.0 enables architects to build on a solid base and protect today’s investments in Power-based software and solutions, by maintaining compatibility for applications developed in previous architecture generations.  Consequently, programs going back to the beginning of POWER remain compatible with the new Instruction Set Architecture defined by Power ISA 3.0.

To learn more about the Power Instruction Set Architecture, read the full description at, or join me at the OpenPOWER Summit 2016 to discuss this and other new developments from the OpenPOWER Foundation.

mkgMichael Gschwind is a Chief Architect for Power Systems and the Chief Engineer for Machine Learning and Deep Learning in IBM’s Systems Group.   He was also a Chief Architect responsible for creating the little-endian Power software environment which forms the foundation of the OpenPOWER ecosystem and the software environment for the Cell SPE, the first general purpose programmable accelerator. Dr. Gschwind is an IBM Master Inventor, a member of the IBM Academy and a Fellow of the IEEE.