SC14: OpenPOWER and the State of Supercomputing


By Ken King, GM of OpenPOWER Alliances, IBM

Last week, SC14 brought together the brightest minds and organizations in the high-performance computing (HPC) industry. It was truly exciting to discuss with these experts some of the business challenges HPC is tackling today – from medical research to investment banking to weather forecasting – and possibilities for the future. IBM and the OpenPOWER Foundation shared our vision for the future of technical computing, in which open innovation leads to accelerated and more compelling development of HPC systems.

IBM kicked off the show highlighting our recently announced $325M contract award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop and deliver advanced “data centric” supercomputing systems, which will advance discovery in science, engineering and national security. In a move that could shake up the high performance computing industry, IBM’s new OpenPOWER-based systems use a data centric approach and put computing power everywhere data resides, minimizing data in motion, energy consumption, and cost/performance. These systems are the debut of OpenPOWER innovation in supercomputing and the result of the collaboration of OpenPOWER Foundation members, including IBM, NVIDIA and Mellanox.

The DOE project is just the beginning when it comes to how IBM and the OpenPOWER Foundation plan to revolutionize supercomputing. The fact is that traditional supercomputing approaches are no longer keeping up with the enormous growth of big data and Moore’s Law can no longer be relied on for historical performance gains; the industry needs open collaboration to develop the data centric, high performance systems required to tackle today’s biggest challenges. That’s where the OpenPOWER community comes in, as a force of material innovation vital to shaping the future of technical computing. With more than 70 companies, including NVIDIA, Mellanox, Altera and Nallatech, the OpenPOWER Foundation is incorporating advanced technology like GPUs, NICS and FPGA cards, all of which have the potential to transform today’s supercomputing capabilities in an open, integrated fashion. With these possibilities, the future of supercomputing is becoming more open than ever – and the OpenPOWER Foundation is leading the way.

In addition to the forward-thinking that was on display at SC14, we were also excited to see that the HPC industry is recognizing the disruptive potential of the combination of IBM Power Systems and OpenPOWER innovations. IBM won several HPCwire awards, including an Editor’s Choice for Best HPC Server Product or Technology for IBM POWER8 processor-based systems, recognizing Power’s superior performance for HPC systems. The OpenPOWER Foundation also won an Editor’s Choice for Top 5 New Products or Technologies to Watch for its potential to transform how HPC systems are built in the future.

We were pleased have an impact on the annual SuperComputing event and to share our vision for the future of technical computing. We look forward to returning in the years to come to further showcase how the new data centric paradigm and open collaborative innovation in supercomputing (via OpenPOWER) is transforming the industry.