IBM turns to NVIDIA to power OpenPOWER-based systems

IBM PowerHaving exited the x86 server business, IBM has turned its focus to a new range of systems that leverages GPU acceleration delivered by NVIDIA.

Built on IBM’s POWER8 processor, the new IBM Power S824L servers are optimised for big data workloads. The new systems tightly integrate IBM and other OpenPOWER member technologies, including NVIDIA’s GPU accelerator technology for the first time, to unleash computing performance to help enable banks to better analyse risk, energy companies to more precisely locate oil reserves, and scientists to more quickly identify cures for diseases.

They provide clients the ability to run data-intensive tasks on the POWER8 processor while offloading other compute-intensive Big Data workloads to GPU accelerators which are capable of running millions of data computations in parallel and are designed to significantly speed up compute-intensive applications.

To take advantage of GPU acceleration on Power Systems, IBM will be optimising IBM big data enterprise applications, including the IBM DB2 database software with BLU Acceleration. Additionally, IBM is working to optimise Power versions of widely used GPU-accelerated applications for bioinformatics, defence, finance, molecular dynamics, weather modeling – including SOAP3, NAMD, GROMACS, FFTW library, and Quantum Espresso.

Future versions of IBM Power Systems will feature NVIDIA NVLink technology, eliminating the need to transfer data between the CPU and GPUs over the PCI Express interface. This will enable NVIDIA GPUs to access IBM POWER CPU memory at its full bandwidth, improving performance for numerous enterprise applications. Such systems are expected to be available beginning in 2016.

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