Mar 022016

I get the feeling it’s time for someone to set the record straight on OpenHPC. Social media and the press have had some strong sentiments of OpenHPC is Intel and OpenPOWER is IBM. While each vendor did start its own “open” initiative, they’re addressing different challenges and are not as contradictory as you might think.

First, I should state that these are strictly my own opinions and I’m not entirely impartial. I am not a founding or current member of either organization, but I have been actively watching both since their inception. I have fairly strong opinions on each, but I also expect to be working with both. In other words, OpenHPC and OpenPOWER could work together!

Logo of the OpenHPC initiative

I say this because OpenHPC really does appear to be opening up. When the OpenHPC git repo was put up, the naysayers pointed out that all existing commits were from Intel. However, this repo is merely a set of build scripts and unit tests for existing open-source tools. OpenHPC is built using the open-source packages that HPC sites have been using for years (SLURM, Warewulf, OpenMPI, MVAPICH, etc). The building blocks of OpenHPC have been open for years.

Intel is pushing this initiative along through the generous contributions of Intel employees, but they are not locking others out. For instance, Intel’s Chief Evangelist of Software Products has openly invited IBM to join OpenHPC (and has stated it would be an “extreme disappointment” if the foundation didn’t feel open enough for such a move).

Furthermore, there’s at least one person looking into a port of OpenHPC to ARM64. I doubt Intel will assist too much in such an effort, but there is a clear precedent of cooperation (that individual has been given access to the OpenHPC build system).

Only time will tell, but I expect OpenHPC and OpenPOWER to significantly impact HPC in the coming years. The end of 2015 was very exciting for HPC, with clear support from President Obama and one of the most lively HPC conferences on record. I’m very excited for 2016.

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