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A decade of open computing

27 July, 2021 | Vladimir Galabov

A decade of open computing

The third Annual OCP China Day, organized by the Open Compute Project (OCP) Foundation and hosted by Inspur, will be held on July 27, 2021 in Beijing. It marks another step in the right direction to popularizing open computing across the globe. This year is the tenth anniversary of the open compute project and the theme of OCP China Day is “Open compute for a new decade: Decarbonization, Efficiency, Adoption”. 

Omdia has tracked the open computing market in detail for 5 years and over that period we have seen the end-user base expand and adoption take off. We expect 40% of the servers shipped in 2025 to be developed based on open standard, up from 7% in 2016. This is a very significant number, partularly given that our forecast takes into account large scale adoption at only two or three of the hyperscale cloud service providers. Most of the net new deployments are expected to be at tier-2 cloud, communication service providers and enterprises, including the public or government sector. 

Three of the major reasons why a more diverse set of end-users are exploring open computing is (1) cost, (2) energy efficiency and (3) following hyperscale cloud service provider innovation. These have been identified in our surveys year after year. The first, cost, includes both CAPEX and OPEX reduction. The second, energy efficiency, is about reducing electricity consumption and being more climate friendly. The last one, follow hyperscale cloud service provider innovation, is about utilizing the expertise of the engineer army that’s constantly optimizing the data center equipment of the cloud juggernauts like Facebook and Microsoft.  

A decade of open computing

What is interesting about the OCP is that the members of the community partner not just on defining data center hardware standards but also on components and even software. Some of the initiatives we’re following very closely are: 

  • Open rack management controller (OpenRMC) which aims to establish a specification that enables all components of a data center rack, including top-of-rack switch, power distribution units, fans, servers and their comoponents, etc. to be visible to the management controller. The initiative was led by Inspur and helped influence vendors to open their code to the industry. Contributors include Facebook, Microsoft, Google, HPE, Dell, Intel, and Wiwynn.
  • Open accelerator module (OAM) project which defines the mezzanine form factor and common specifications for a compute accelerator module. In contrast with a PCIe add-in card form factor, the mezzanine module form factor of OAM facilitates scalability across accelerators by simplifying the system solution when interconnecting high-speed communication links among modules.
  • Open domain-specific architecture (ODSA) project which aims to establish open physical and logical processor to processor interfaces for chiplets. This could ultimately create a marketplace of interoperable chiplets from multiple vendors based on open interfaces. This will allow product designers to develop best in class chiplets and System-In -a-Package (SIP) from multiple vendors. 

At the OCP China Day artificial intelligence startup, Enflame, will discuss liquid cooling for OAM; and Alibaba will discuss the evolution of ODSA. Amongst other sessions, Inspur will provide an update on adoption of open computing utilising Omdia data and insights. 

A detailed analysis of the open computing market is available in a report we’re publishing today Open Computing is for Everyone and is Here to Stay.


Vladimir Galabov, Head of Cloud and Data Center Research Practice

Vlad is responsible for the cloud and data center research practice’s expanding roadmap, focused on disruptive trends such as the shift to edge computing, the evolution of compute silicon, and the need for efficiency improvements and sustainability in the data center industry. Read bio

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