Last week I participated the OpenPower Summit. I enjoyed it, even if I was on sick leave with a fever. There were many interesting talks, ranging from open source and education through Power10 to instruction development. All sessions were recorded. Hopefully recordings will also be shared, as I did not have the strength to visit all the sessions I wanted. And, as usual, some of the interesting talks were given in parallel.
James Kulina, Executive Director of the OpenPower Foundation, opened the conference with a short overview of the topics. The keynote talks were given by the sponsors of the event. It was a pleasant surprise: even if companies and product names were mentioned, most of the talks were not marketing talks but deeply technical. As someone, who is involved in open source, I especially enjoyed two of the talks:
The next talk I listened to was given by Wu Feng of Virginia Tech: A Vision for Transforming 21st-Century Pedagogy via Open Standards: OpenPOWER. He gave an overview of computer architecture education for the past few decades and then introduced us to his latest work: a new curriculum based on the POWER architecture. The POWER ISA is not the new kid on the block, but as you can see from the Power10 and the Libre-SOC talks, it is still continuously evolving. Small scale testing of the new curriculum starts already early next year!
I am not a hardware engineer, but it was still fascinating listening to Luke Leighton talking about his work on Libre-SOC: Draft SVP64 in-place Matrix Multiply and FFT / DCT for OpenPOWER. He is working on extending the Power ISA with various instructions.
Open source laptop
Prepare yourself to switch computing to Open Hardware Power Architecture was a talk by Roberto Innocenti. He talked about the open source laptop he is working on, of course with a POWER CPU at its heart. Due to the pandemic they are quite behind schedule. Some parts to build the first working prototypes are still missing.
OpenPOWER working groups
The last talk I joined was given by Toshaan Bharvani, who talked about the various existing and planned working groups of the OpenPOWER foundation. There are a number of working groups I found interesting and worth to join, however there was one which really sparked my interest: the POWER π working group. As you might have guessed from the name: they are working on a small single board computer, probably still larger than a Raspberry Pi. It will feature a POWER CPU and have a $150 price point.
When talking about POWER I’m sometimes accused that I’m beating a dead horse. As you can see from just a small selection of talks at the OpenPOWER Summit 2021, the community around POWER is quite lively. Curriculum, new instructions and various new hardware are under development. If all goes well, POWER will be a lot more accessible to users and developers hopefully already next year!