Google, Rackspace Release Specs for IBM Power9-Based Server

A Facebook data centre. Image credit: Facebook

Google and Rackspace announced draft specifications for the Zaius P9 data center server. The design implements Open Compute Project server standards

Google and cloud storage company Rackspace have released draft specifications for Zaius, a new data center server based on IBM’s POWER9 (P9) microprocessor (pictured) and the Open Compute Project’s (OCP) Open Server specifications.

The Zaius P9 Server specification is the outcome of a partnership between the two companies announced earlier this year at the Open Power Summit. Under the effort, Google and Rackspace have committed to working with each other to develop data center technologies based on open standards such as the OCP’s Open Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (OpenCAPI).

The goal is to develop servers and bus architectures based on IBM’s Power architecture and that will be better capable of keeping up with advances in microprocessor, memory and storage technologies. Google has said that it plans to use Power-based servers in its data centers in addition to servers based on Intel technology in the future.

Power9 server

IBMIn a recent blog post announcing the new server specification, Google Technical Program Manager John Zipfel said Zaius P9 incorporates many features and design aspects that are new to Google. According to Zipfel, the specification is the result of input from Rackspace, IBM and Ingrasys Technology, and is designed to meet the needs of a broad set of users with the OCP community.

The Zaius motherboard is a dual-socket technology and supports two IBM Power9 CPUs. It supports DDR4 high-bandwidth memory, Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIE) Gen 4 serial bus and an interface based on the OpenCAPI standard. The server is designed with a power system that is optimized for rack computing environments such as those found in the cloud.

The software for the Zaius baseboard management controller (BMC), which is used to monitor aspects like server temperature, fan speeds and humidity levels, is being developed using the open BMC framework, according to Zipfel. The open framework is designed to make it easier for hardware makers to catch and fix bugs and implement new features in their products.

Google and Rackspace have submitted the Zaius design specifications to the Open Compute Project (OCP) community for feedback. The company will submit it to the OCP for a formal review later this year.

“Following this specification, we plan to release elements of the board’s design collateral, including the schematics and layout,” Zipfel said. “This is a draft specification of a preliminary, untested design, but we’re hoping that an early release will drive collaboration and discussion within the community.”

If accepted, the specification will form the basis for more technologies based on open data center server standards. It will lay the groundwork to a future where Google will have heterogeneous architectures running in its cloud, Zipfel said.

Google’s efforts under the OpenCAPI initiative to develop more scalable data center server bus architectures are similar to that of the Gen-Z Consortium announced earlier this month.

The Gen-Z group, which includes AMD, Cray, Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM and several other large technology companies, aims to create and commercialize new computing interconnect technologies and protocols for getting around performance bottlenecks in current bus architectures.

Originally published on eWeek