Sunday, October 16, 2016

OpenCAPI Looks to Redefine Server Architecture Beyond PCIe

Major industry vendors announced their support for OpenCAPI, a new standard that provides an open, high-speed pathway for different types of technology – advanced memory, accelerators, networking and storage – to more tightly integrate their functions within servers. The idea is to re-architect servers to remove system bottlenecks, putting the compute power closer to the data -- and to do so with an open (non-Intel) design.

Backers of the newly formed OpenCAPI Consortium include AMD, Dell EMC, Google, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, Mellanox Technologies, Micron, NVIDIA and Xilinx.


OpenCAPI said its high bandwidth, low latency open interface is capable of 25 Gbps, outperforming the current PCIe specification which offers a maximum data transfer rate of 16 Gbps.

Several companies announced plans to introduce and deploy OpenCAPI enabled products, including:

  • IBM plans to introduce POWER9-based servers that leverage the OpenCAPI specification in the second half of 2017. Additionally, IBM will enable members of OpenPOWER Foundation to introduce OpenCAPI enabled products in the second half 2017.
  • Google and Rackspace’s new server under development, codenamed Zaius and announced at the OpenPOWER Summit in San Jose, will leverage POWER9 processor technology and plans to provide the OpenCAPI interface in its design.
  • Mellanox plans to enable the new specification capabilities in its future products.
  • Xilinx plans to support OpenCAPI enabled FPGAs.


The OpenCAPI consortium said it intends to make the OpenCAPI specification fully available to the public at no charge before the end of the year.

IBM first introduced CAPI technology to the industry in 2014 with our POWER8 processor and made it available to our OpenPOWER partners. Since then, the industry has embraced and validated its potential as a game-changing technology for the most important modern workloads including artificial intelligence, advanced data analytics and deep learning,” said Brad McCredie, IBM Fellow and Vice President of POWER Development. “As a result of this initial success, IBM has decided to double down on our commitment to open standards and enablement of industry innovation by opening up access to our CAPI technology to the entire industry. With the support of our OpenCAPI co-founders, we have created a new OpenCAPI specification that tremendously improves performance over our prior specification and IBM will be among the first to implement it with our POWER9 products expected in 2017.”

http://www.opencapi.org

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