OpenBMC Project Community Comes Together at The Linux Foundation to Define Open Source Implementation of BMC Firmware Stack
Jim Zemlin | 19 March 2018
The OpenBMC Project community is coming together with the goal of defining a stack that will work across heterogeneous systems that include enterprise, HPC, telco, and cloud-scale data centers. The organizations behind the new project each have already made substantial contributions to creating open source baseboard management controller (BMC) firmware. Now, working together, they will define the vision for a standard stack that can be used across systems and computing environments.
IBM is providing their OpenBMC code base to The Linux Foundation, and this project will be supported by several organizations, including Facebook, Google, Intel, and Microsoft. The community is looking to expand and invites contributors from across the industry to come together in defining and creating the OpenBMC stack.
BMCs, specialized controllers that monitor the state of a computer or hardware, are typically found in the main circuit board of the device they monitor. They enable monitoring and management of various aspects of the machine, such as health (e.g., temperature and voltages), log events for failure analysis, and provide a range of other remote management capabilities. BMCs were introduced about two decades ago, along with the Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) and are critical to the management of remotely deployed server systems.
The BMC software stack has been closed until the past couple of years, due to the variety of hardware topologies, such as SoC ranging from 8-bit microcontrollers to 32-bit ARM cores, and often secretive nature of hardware design. To allow greater access and control to BMCs, companies like the five coming together around OpenBMC began developing their own open versions.
One factor lending urgency to their work is that the scale of cloud deployment makes traditional BMC development impractical for a number of reasons. These include:
- Reproduce-debug-fix-deployment cycle: When an issue arises with a cloud-scale deployment, it is difficult to reproduce the same issue in a controlled lab environment. This makes it tough to find and fix the problem quickly. An open BMC stack allows faster debugging.
- Security models: Modern, open BMC implementations allow end users to leverage their own security models rather than forcing them to use older models with known vulnerabilities.
- Configuration and monitoring: Traditional BMCs required use of their own tooling. Linux, the host OS for most systems in data centers, provides standard tools that can be used to configure and monitor BMCs.
The Linux Foundation is pleased to welcome OpenBMC to our family of open source projects and to work with the community to support its growth. To learn more, visit https://www.openbmc.org.
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