Menu
Google shows homegrown server with IBM Power chip

Google shows homegrown server with IBM Power chip

Google is showing off a Power8 motherboard at an IBM show in Las Vegas Monday

Google's first Power8 motherboard

Google's first Power8 motherboard

IBM's efforts to expand the use of its Power chips in hyperscale data centers just got a big shot in the arm from Google.

The online giant is showing its first home-built server board based on IBM's upcoming Power8 processor at an IBM conference in Las Vegas on Monday.

Google is a founding member of the OpenPower Foundation, IBM's project to open up the design of its Power chip for use in new types of servers, so it's no secret Google was on board with the effort. But it hadn't confirmed publicly that it was building Power hardware and porting its software to the chip.

On Monday, Gordon MacKean, a Google engineer who's also chairman of the OpenPower Foundation, posted a picture of Google's Power8 server motherboard on his Google+ page.

It's a test vehicle, so it doesn't mean Google will roll out Power servers widely in its data centers any time soon, but it's a good vote of confidence for IBM.

"We're always looking to deliver the highest quality of service for our users, and so we built this server to port our software stack to Power," MacKean wrote.

"A real server platform is also critical for detailed performance measurements and continuous optimizations, and to integrate and test the ongoing advances that become available through OpenPower and the extended OpenPower community," he wrote.

Power chips are used primarily in IBM's own Unix servers, but declining sales of those systems has forced IBM to look farther afield. By licensing the design of Power8, it hopes to persuade other companies to design Power chips and servers for use in other markets.

It will compete in those markets with Intel's x86 Xeon chips, which dominate today, and also with 64-bit processors from ARM, which are slowly making their way to the server market.

Indeed, ARM chips have been getting most of the headlines lately. Like Intel's Atom processors, they're not powerful but are seen as a good fit for workloads that involve high volumes of small transactions, because their small cores consume little electricity.

But there's a place in hyperscale data centers for beefier cores, too. Processors like Xeon and Power support high core counts, fast bandwidth on and off the chip, and large memory footprints, which are good for analyzing large amounts of data quickly.

Porting Google's software to Power was easier than expected, MacKean wrote, thanks in part to the support in Power8 for "little-endian," a data format used by x86 processors.

He didn't say anything else about the board, except that it's being shown off in the OpenPower booth at IBM's Impact conference in Las Vegas.

IBM still has work to do as it tries to build a new ecosystem around Power. It will need companies with a different cost model from IBM's that can produce Power chips and servers cheaply enough for companies like Google and Facebook to buy.

Those companies like to design their own low-cost hardware and don't want all the bells and whistles that the IBMs of the world provide. IBM has signed up one chip licensee so far, China's Suzhou PowerCore, as well as a few systems builders, including Tyan and Hitachi.

There are about two dozen members of the OpenPower Foundation altogether, including GPU vendor Nvidia, InfiniBand vendor Mellanox, Ubuntu Linux maker Canonical, and other software and component companies.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags GoogleserversprocessorsIBMhardware systemsComponentsHigh-end servers

Featured

Slideshows

Reseller News kicks off awards season in 2019 with Judges' Lunch

Reseller News kicks off awards season in 2019 with Judges' Lunch

The 2019 Reseller News Innovation Awards has kicked off with the Judges Lunch in Auckland with 70 judges in the voting panel. The awards will reflect the changing dynamics of the channel, recognising excellence across customer value and innovation - spanning start-ups, partners, distributors and vendors. Photos by Christine Wong.

Reseller News kicks off awards season in 2019 with Judges' Lunch
Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2018 inductees - Chris Simpson, Kendra Ross and Phill Patton - to the third running of the Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed the changing landscape of the technology industry in New Zealand, while outlining ways to attract a new breed of players to the ecosystem. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch
Upcoming tech talent share insights at inaugural Emerging Leaders Forum 2019

Upcoming tech talent share insights at inaugural Emerging Leaders Forum 2019

The channel came together for the inaugural Reseller News Emerging Leaders Forum in New Zealand, created to provide a program that identifies, educates and showcases the upcoming talent of the ICT industry. Hosted as a half day event, attendees heard from industry champions as keynoters and panelists talked about future opportunities and leadership paths and joined mentoring sessions with members of the ICT industry Hall of Fame. The forum concluded with 30 Under 30 Tech Awards across areas of Sales, Entrepreneur, Marketing, Management, Technical and Human Resources. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Upcoming tech talent share insights at inaugural Emerging Leaders Forum 2019
Show Comments