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OpenPOWER Foundation Ignites Power Systems Acceleration

Constant Innovation
Illustration by Alex Pang

IBM’s OpenPOWER Foundation has grown in size and span, with over 200 members across 24 countries, but what innovations have come from it?

Stefanie Chiras, vice president, IBM Power Systems* Offering Management, has the answers. She highlights the IBM Data Engine for NoSQL, the Turbo Linux*, Apache, MySQL, PHP (LAMP) stack and more as she talks about unleashing the possibilities of the cognitive era.

Q: What are the benefits of becoming a member of the OpenPOWER Foundation?
I’ll point to two key benefits. First, our partners are seeing and reaping the value of having an ecosystem that is constantly innovating. And second, they are part of guiding that innovation going forward, really directing the next era of IT capability.

OpenPOWER provides innovation and multivendor support across the full stack. It’s about providing client value across everything from the processor to the hypervisor to the accelerators to the applications. What we’re seeing in the technical work groups is real optimization being done. Collaboration is breaking boundaries.

Q: At a recent conference, you talked about how OpenPOWER goes hand-in-hand with the “cognitive era.” In your words, what is cognitive computing?
Nothing has changed IT and computing more than the growth in data. It started with how to collect and gather the right data. The next stage was how to ask questions and gain insight from that data.

Cognitive is the next step—when data tells you insights you didn’t even know to ask. For example, we looked at adverse drug reactions (i.e., when a patient takes different drugs that interact with each other in a harmful way). This results in around 100,000 deaths per year, so it’s a big problem.

As part of a study, IBM pulled in data that was available prior to 2014—multiple types and from multiple sources, such as the Food and Drug Administration, patient records, and medical and chemistry journals. Then, they looked at how many adverse drug reactions they could have predicted with that data, using a machine learning algorithm that's available today.

The result: 72 percent of the adverse drug reactions could have been found in the data that existed prior to 2014. This demonstration shows that it’s not just about having data. In the cognitive era, it’s about finding linkages and ties and using that data to tell you things you never suspected were there.

Q: How are OpenPOWER innovations addressing the challenges of the cognitive era?
Acceleration will be key to unleash the possibilities of the cognitive era. One essential and truly differentiated POWER8* capability is CAPI [Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface], which provides unique CPU-to-accelerator communication. And by opening that up to the OpenPOWER Foundation, we have a whole ecosystem of innovators who are now building accelerators that uniquely differentiate with POWER8.

Eve Daniels is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer.



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