Setting High Standards for OpenPOWER Hardware Architecture



33601413By Michael Gschwind, Chief Architect & Senior Manager, Power System Architecture, IBM

When we founded OpenPOWER to create a new inclusive ecosystem built around collaborative innovation, we knew that innovation needed to be built around a core of common standards.  To ensure interoperability of new technologies and to give assurance to hardware manufacturers, software developers, partners and customers that the choice for OpenPOWER was an investment into the future: a choice for a future with growing performance, growing markets and interoperable solutions built to last.

At the core of this open ecosystem, we needed a platform of uncompromising quality and compatibility across hardware and software upon which to build transformative solutions for a connected planet.  We were fortunate to have an unparalleled breath of skills among the founding members to set the course.  Each company had revolutionized their respective field or fields: computer graphics, accelerators, high-speed networking, innovative system design, system virtualization, modern computer architecture and design, internet content services, hyperscale data centers, cloud computing,…

To create a common reference point for the entire ecosystem, together we created the first three OpenPOWER workgroups, for Hardware Architecture, System Software, and Architecture Compliance.  We tasked these groups with identifying and standardizing the fundamental system functions that would serve as the common reference for the ecosystem.

A year has passed since the creation of the first OpenPOWER workgroups, and these workgroups have been busy setting the standards that will enable the ecosystem to grow even more.  As the Chair of the Hardware Architecture Workgroup, I am particularly delighted to share the availability of the Hardware Architecture Work Group Specification Public Review Draft for the first generation of OpenPOWER hardware architecture, and I would like to solicit your review and your feedback:

OpenPOWER ISA Profile Public Review Draft:
The purpose of the OpenPOWER Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) Profile specification is to describe the categories of the POWER ISA Version 2.07 B that are required in the OpenPOWER chip architecture for IBM POWER8 systems.
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IODA2 Specification Public Review Draft:
The purpose of the I/O Design Architecture, version 2 (IODA2) specification is to describe the chip architecture for key aspects of PCIe-based host bridge (PHB) designs for IBM POWER8 systems.
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CAIA Specification Public Review Draft:
This document defines the Coherent Accelerator Interface Architecture (CAIA) for the IBM¬ģ POWER8¬†¬ģ systems. The information contained in this document allows various CAIA-compliant accelerator¬†implementations to meet the needs of a wide variety of systems and applications. Compatibility¬†with the CAIA allows applications and system software to migrate from one implementation to another¬†with minor changes.

The commenting period for all three Hardware Architecture Workgroup standards track documents closes on January 10, 2016.  I want to take this opportunity to thank the over 100 members of the workgroup for their ongoing active participation and thoughtful contributions in defining these proposed OpenPOWER specifications.