IBM’s chip business needs help. So the company has opened up the technology of its Power microprocessors, inviting others to modify and manufacture Power-based designs pretty much as they see fit. This open, liberal licensing initiative is conducted under the auspices of the Open Power Foundation, which was incorporated in December.
The foundation now has two dozen members in addition to IBM, including Google, Samsung, Nvidia, Mellanox and Tyan. On Wednesday, IBM and the foundation are announcing the first fruits of that collaboration – server computers based on IBM’s new Power 8 chip technology. The chips, experts say, are unusually fast, powerful and tuned for handling vast amounts of data.
IBM and Google are the key strategic players in the foundation. IBM’s Power systems hold the largest share of the market for server computers running the Unix operating system. But the Unix server market is withering. Sales of IBM’s Power systems fell 31 percent last year.
“For the Power technology to survive, IBM has to do this,” said Charles King, principal analyst for Pund-IT, a research firm. “It needs to find new markets for Power.”
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