Google and Rackspace are to jointly develop an open server specification based around IBM's next-generation Power9 processors under the aegis of the Open Compute Project (OCP).
The move indicates that Google is considering using Power servers to drive some of its online services in the future.
The two firms disclosed the partnership at the OpenPower Summit in California this week, the annual event for the OpenPower Foundation which is dedicated to building an ecosystem of data centre products and technologies based on IBM's Power architecture.
Google, a founder member of the OpenPower Foundation, is working with Rackspace on an open server specification based on the Power9 architecture. The two firms will submit a candidate server design to the OCP, another industry body aimed at driving common standards in the data centre.
Maire Mahony, Google's hardware engineering manager, explained that the firm is committed to open innovation, as well as to optimising performance and cost in data centres.
"Working with Rackspace, we will submit a Power9 server design to the OCP that will address the diverse requirements of end customers for data centre services," Mahony said.
Rackspace has been developing its own open standard server, codenamed Barreleye, based on IBM's existing Power8 processors. The company said at the OpenPower Summit that it will make Barreleye available this year, operating workloads on Rackspace's Public Cloud powered by OpenStack.
Meanwhile, the first Power9 processors are not expected to arrive until 2017. These will be manufactured using a 14nm production process and are set to offer up to 24 CPU cores, double that of the existing Power8 chips.
Like the current IBM chips, Power9 will put an emphasis on demanding workloads such as analytics and big data. A key part of this will be a new microarchitecture and enhancements to the Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface technology that enables a plug-in accelerator, such as an Nvidia GPU sitting on the PCI Express bus, to function as if it were an on-chip processor with access to the same memory space as the CPU cores.
"We are excited to work with Google on our Power9 OpenPower-based, OCP form factor server," said Rackspace distinguished engineer Aaron Sullivan, who is also a member of the OCP Incubation Committee.
"OpenPower processors combined with acceleration technology are fundamentally changing server and data centre design today and into the future.
"OpenPower provides a great platform for the speed and flexibility needs of hyperscale operators as they demand ever-increasing levels of scalability."
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