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October 14, 2016updated 13 Jan 2017 11:49am

Google, IBM, HPE unite to challenge Intel in the data centre

Intel has stayed away from the open standard technology.

By James Nunns

Several of the largest tech companies including IBM have joined in collaboration to boost data centre server performance.

The creation of a new standard, called Open Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (OpenCAPI), has been undertaken by Google, Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Micron Technologies, Mellanox Technologies, NVIDIA, Advanced Micro Devices, and Xilinx.

The standard is an open interface that will help corporate and cloud data centres to speed up big data, machine learning, analytics, and various other emerging workloads and is said to boost data centre server performance by up to ten times.

Intel’s absence from the consortium is notable as the world’s largest chipmaker and a company that has invested in being the biggest supplier to data centres. The chip maker has closely aligned itself to growing cloud communities such as OpenStack and the Cloud Foundry with assuring its market share in mind.

This isn’t the first time that Intel has stayed away from open standard technology groups, having not joined Cache Coherent Interconnect for Accelerators (CCIX) and Gen-Z, which is an industry alliance working to create and commercialise a scalable computing interconnect protocol.

The biggest chipmaker is facing a challenge from the likes of IBM.

The biggest chipmaker is facing a challenge from the likes of IBM.

In total these groups are backed by more than 30 companies under the idea that the data centre of the future will require open standards.

Kurtis Bowman, Gen-Z Consortium president, said: “The Gen-Z Consortium is committed to establishing an ecosystem where members, the broader industry, and customers work together to deliver robust, high-quality specifications that enable new datacenter architectures.”

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IBM said that it first introduced CAPI technology in 2014 with its POWER8 processor and saw that the industry embraced it as a potential game-changing technology for modern workloads such as artificial intelligence.

Brad McCredie, IBM Fellow and VP of POWER Development, said: “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.”

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