Microprocessor performance simply has not kept pace with exponential increases in information, coupled with heightened demands for speed, analytics and cost effectiveness.
Until the introduction of the IBM POWER8 Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface, or CAPI, industry attempts to deploy hardware acceleration solutions that addressed the performance shortfall had not measured up to the challenge.
Two key hurdles prevented the broad deployment of hardware acceleration via hybrid computing platforms that attempted to integrate a typical processor with a customized hardware accelerator. The first is that the inefficiencies introduced by controlling an accelerator device through a traditional I/O subsystem overshadowed the benefits of acceleration for many workloads. The second is that the programming complexities of I/O-attached acceleration put it out of reach for many companies with time-to-market constraints and finite resources.
The POWER8 CAPI technology works around those issues with breakthrough innovations that have made hardware acceleration easily accessible and affordable for a broader base of clients than ever before. At the same time, CAPI has also laid the groundwork for an unprecedented level of partnership and wide range of new possibilities.
Available only on POWER8, and central to the concept of the Open Platform, CAPI serves as a “hollow core” that can be integrated with existing cores and is easily programmable to perform a specific function with amazing speed and efficiency. Drawing data directly from the processors and main system memory without any I/O overhead, CAPI runs as a peer to the POWER8 cores, accessing memory using the same programming methods and virtual address space.
By enabling a customer-defined FPGA (field programmable gate array) to function as a peer to the POWER8 cores in terms of memory access, developers are able to simplify the programming model of the accelerator and achieve huge efficiencies as a result.
Among the many metrics demonstrating greater efficiencies and cost savings:
- CAPI reduces the typical seven-step I/O model flow to three steps.
- Running NoSQL on POWER8 with CAPI reduces costs by three times.
In overcoming the fundamental inhibitors to hybrid computing, CAPI enables a higher-performing solution with a much smaller programming investment. As a result of lower costs and highly simplified programming, hardware acceleration is now accessible to a broader segment of the market than ever before.
The overall value proposition of CAPI is that it significantly reduces development time for new implementations and improves performance by connecting the processor to hardware accelerators and allowing them to communicate in the same language – eliminating I/O “middleman.”
Ultimately CAPI is opening up new levels of partnership by opening up the POWER8 architecture to innovation and customization. Tens of thousands of developers from around the world are now able to work on the platform and build solutions that we could never have imagined.
Learn more about CAPI, and other unique advantages offered by Power Systems scale-out servers, in this paper written by Robert Frances Group, "The IBM Power Scale-out Advantage."
For more information: http://www-304.ibm.com/webapp/set2/sas/f/capi/home.html
To try CAPI for yourself, check out the OpenPOWER CAPI Developer Kit.