OpenPOWER Academic Discussion Group Holds First Workshop

By John Russell

December 7, 2015

Since its founding in 2013, OpenPOWER Foundation membership has grown to more than 170 including roughly 40 academic members; the latter have formed an Academic Discussion Group and held their first workshop in Austin coinciding with SC15 last month.

During a packed 1.5-day agenda, presenters from academia and industry examined progress and opportunities to leverage OpenPOWER technology. The workshop’s primary goals, say organizers, were to facilitate networking and improve technical knowledge of ADG members on relevant OpenPOWER. It also focused on creating a platform for commercial OpenPOWER members to explore opportunities for collaborating with ADG members.

Workshop conveners included Prof Dirk Pleiter (Forschungszentrum Jülich & Universität Regensburg), Ganesan Narayanasamy (OpenPOWER Academia Workgroup Leader), and Cathy Cocco (IBM). Here’s small sampling of the many talks presented:

  • Spark on POWER, Randy Swanberg, ‎Distinguished Engineer at IBM.
  • TACC Participation in OpenPOWER, Dan Stanzione, Executive Director, OpenPower Academic Discussion Group.
  • HPC applications on GPU-accelerated POWER8 architectures, Paul F Baumeister, Thorsten Hater, Dirk Pleiter POWER Acceleration and Design Center Jülich Supercomputing Centre Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Germany.
  • Cluster-Based Apache Spark Implementation of NGS Analysis Pipelines, Zaid Al-Ars Delft University of Technology & Bluebee.

Representatives from IBM, NVIDIA, Itersil, STFC , JSC and Technical University Delft discussed their contributions to the OpenPOWER in terms of POWER Processor, GPU acceleration and network adapters/switches, along with development and scalability of application areas analytics using SPARK, Genomics and Translational Medicines. Members such as A*Star, University of Warsaw, JSC, IIT Roorkee, STFC, ORNL, and TACC shared experiences and work on OpenPOWER eco­system. A TACC lab tour was arranged for the group members with the intent to give them an opportunity to gain familiarity with OpenPOWER system features.

(All of the presentations may be downladed from: https://ibm.app.box.com/s/mauxelpxrnflbck4i3351co0wc6ijsyp)

OpenPOWER, of course, is in large measure the IBM-driven effort to create an alternative architecture to Intel x86. As summarized by Narayanasamy, “Member companies are enabled to customize POWER processors and system platforms for optimization and innovation for their business needs. These innovations include development of custom systems for large or warehouse scale data centers, workload acceleration through GPU, FPGA or advanced I/O, platform optimization for SW appliances, or advanced hardware technology exploitation.”

According to organizers, the workshop showcased ADG and commercial OpenPOWER members’ interest in the rapidly expanding OpenPOWER ecosystem and their intention to play a visible role. “The workshop discussions were around OpenPOWER technologies for high­ performance computing and scientific data analytics applications. The workshop also promoted exchange of results among the academia OpenPOWER members, enhanced their technical knowledge and facilitated networking,” he said.

“The workshop helped demonstrate many overlapping interests among participants, and led towards first step on collaborative work. Many of the findings of large scale Computing are applicable to a broad range of scientific domains,” said Narayanasamy.

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