IBM Takes the Open Source Path to Server Chip Development

by Ostatic Staff - Apr. 24, 2014

The OpenPower Foundation , an open development community dedicated to accelerating data center innovation, has taken its first steps to deliver actual system designs based on IBM's new Power8 processor. Formed by Google, IBM, Mellanox Technologies, NVIDIA, and Tyan, the Foundation makes Power hardware and software available for open development, as well as Power intellectual property licensable to other manufacturers. As Re/code notes, "the move allows anyone with the technical chops to design and manufacture their own Power-based chip and add their own enhancements to it."

The OpenPower Foundation has also presented its first white box server details including a development and reference design from Tyan, and firmware and an  operating system developed by IBM, Google, and Canonical.

IBM has been deepening its commitment to open source, Linux and the Power architecture. For example, the company announced at LinuxCon 2013 that it planned to invest one billion dollars into progressing development and enhancing the ecosystem around Linux on Power. With OpenPower, IBM is moving more in the direction of ARM, which licenses chip designs for third parties like Qualcomm, Applied Micro and Apple to develop. OpenPower invites developers far and wide to contribute to development.

At the Open Innovation Summit this week, the OpenPower Foundation showed the first reference board and OEM systems, and innovations including many forms of acceleration, advanced memory and networking. OpenPower has grown to include more than two dozen members. 

"We are very pleased with the growth of the OpenPower community and the progress made by the Working Group members even at this early stage," said Gordon MacKean, Chairman, OpenPower Foundation, in a statement. "The projects feeding the innovation pipeline to date will greatly enhance the performance of the next generation of servers by eliminating system-level bottlenecks." 

Information on OpenPower projects is available on the Foundation's new web site,  We also covered IBM's continuing $1 billion investment in Linux on Power in this post