back to article 10x faster servers? Pop a CAPI in your dome

How does 10x faster server performance sound to you? Not in five or six years, but in late 2017? Ground breaking things are afoot in the server world. IBM’s new OpenCAPI mechanism, and the accompanying organization, promises to make this vision reality. So what the hell is this new version of CAPI and who cares if it’s open? …

  1. Christian Berger

    What an unfortunate naming

    CAPI already stands for the Common ISDN Application Programming Interface, a rather bad API to talk to your ISDN card. Unfortunately that API was so widespread it even got ported to Linux and depreciated much better APIs. That's one of the reasons why classical ISDN cards on Linux suck.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: What an unfortunate naming

      This is just a collision of current and former acronyms. It happens all the time.

      It's getting increasingly difficult in a particular field to come up with an acronym that is meaningful and can be pronounced as a word, because they've already bee used.

      I play a game with my family that if they use an acronym in a conversation, I deliberately misconstrue what they've said by alternative expansion.

      For example. ISA (these are all real)

      Industry Standard Architecture

      Internet Security and Acceleration (Microsoft ISA server)

      Independent Schools Association

      Individual Savings Account

      International Standard Atmosphere

      International Students Association

      International Studies Association (not the same as above)

      International Society of Automation

      International Songwriters Association

      International Society of Arboriculture

      International Survey Agency

      International Sign Association

      International Sustainability Alliance

      .. and there are others if only I could be bothered to go down the hit list.

      1. Sampler
        Coat

        Re: What an unfortunate naming

        Industry Standard Acronym?

        I work in Market Research, so I instantly thought of Computer Assisted Personal Interview, which is similar but not identical to Web Assisted Personal Interview that people seem to like to say and snigger at, though not as much as Paper Assisted Personal Interview, which seems to revert even fifty year olds to toddlers...

  2. Detective Emil
    Meh

    POWER only

    The linked materials suggest that CAPI is specific to IBM's POWER architecture (currently POWER8, POWER9 next year), which makes it a lot less exciting from most potential users' point of view.

    1. Jim Mitchell
      WTF?

      Re: POWER only

      You'll note that AMD is a founding member of the OpenCAP Consortium. If CAPI was staying POWER specific, then why would they be involved?

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: POWER only

        "....AMD....." Hmmmm. The article lists the following big-name vendors: "....AMD, Dell EMC, Google, HPE, IBM, Mellanox Technologies, Micron, NVIDIA, and Xilinx....." Note the absence of the 3000Lb gorilla, Intel?

        1. Sampler

          Re: POWER only

          Yeah, I was excited until I read that point = (

  3. Tim Warren

    FFS el Reg. What is this crap?

    Given that this is a tech website, how about actually putting something technical? I'm not explaining this to my grandmother!

    </grump>

    How does it work?

    Think of PCIe as an old freeway, clogged and with some potholes and with lots of toll booths to navigate (causing latency). In this freeway analogy, PCIe has 16 independent single lanes where cars travel either way. CAPI, by contrast, is a very wide superhighway built adjacent to the old PCIe interstate, with much higher speed limits (3x), way fewer toll booths (latency caused by interfaces), and adds coherency (which means that each car knows exactly where it’s going and how to get there.)

    It is the increased speed of the wires, plus the radical reduction of interfaces to negotiate, which gives the potential for 10x speed-up.

  4. a_mu

    Parallel / serial

    So we went from ISA and PCI being parallel bus to PCIe / SATA high speed serial, to multi lane high speed serial,

    now sounds like were going to parallel data but even higher speed.

    Ah well,

    wonder if I'l still be around when it goes to the new Super super high speed serial , using multi frequency modulated light, as parallel is to difficult to make work fast,

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    CAPI vs Gen-Z vs Omnipath

    Will the next multi-hundred Gbit low-latency interface standard please stand up?

    CAPI, Gen-Z and Omnipath are all attempting to do (more or less) the same thing. Notable absences are Intel from CAPI and Gen-Z while notable are Dell/HPE/others in both Omnipath and Gen-Z. Strange bedfellows and odd enemies all 'round.

  6. druck Silver badge

    Cars or trains?

    From the description of the coherency, it sounds like it should be a multi-line rail tracks next to the old PCI free-way, rather than just a faster free-way.

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