Big Blue previews Power 5 microprocessor

Big Blue is banking on its business partner community to make its new Power 5 chip drive the on-demand world.

The Power 5 microprocessor, which will be released later on this year, will be able to run almost any kind of device from gaming consoles to supercomputers to the Mars rover. IBM’s Power Architecture will also be a part of the company’s server and storage system products and for OEM vendor partners.

Nick Donofrio, senior vice-president, technology and manufacturing at IBM, is the principal architect of the company’s global Power 5 strategy. “”The stage is set for an open era of collaboration that will enable more people to engage with more devices,”” said Nick Donofrio. He added that IBM plans to place Power Architecture into more industries and geographies.

With that IBM is broadening access to the Power Architecture through licensing. It has already cut deals with Sony and Samsung. Sony plans to work with IBM to develop customized system-on-a-chip products for its consumer electronics line.

Big Blue also plans to open several services centres staffed with IBM engineers to help the partner community build embedded Power-based devices.

“”If we have learned anything in the last decade with Linux, the Internet, Java, open standards, Eclipse, etc., it is collaboration to eliminate boundaries and deliver business value,”” Donofrio said. The Power 5 processor will have a play in the small-to-medium sized business market.

IBM will use Apple Computer and its Power-based G5 systems to penetrate the SMB market. Apple is a partner of IBM in the development of Power Architecture along with companies such as L-3, Cisco, Wind River (the developer of the Mars Rover), and Red Hat.

Alex Pinchev, executive vice-president, worldwide sales for Red Hat, said the IBM agreement with Power Architecture has been very successful. “”It was not just a discussion with us and IBM (that led to the agreement), but from real customers. Linux growth is 40 per cent on average per year. This is higher than Microsoft. You can see the success,”” he said.

Linux will be key to Power5 success in the SMB market, said Jon Peddie, president of JPR Research of Tiburon, Calif.

“”IBM’s opportunity in the SMB market is limited because of the hegemony of Microsoft Office. To overcome this they will need file compatibility that will run on Linux. They have to promote Linux-based systems with Power 5,”” Peddie said.

One way is with Lindows, Peddie offered. Lindows has the ability to run Microsoft Office like applications on a Linux machine.

Donofrio said, the only way to make technology such as Power 5 ubiquitous is by having more smaller companies use it.

He added that certain skills have to be brought to bear for the channel. The E&TS Group of IBM will be helping smaller partners to roll out new Power PC-based products to the SMB market.

IBM will also roll out new programs that encourage business partners, along with university researchers, to use the technology to create new Power-based devices.

Peddie believes Power 5 can be a boon for the channel in professional environments with workstations, industrial controls, embedded systems or places where Microsoft Office is not a requirement.

“”It’s wide open and they’ll have an extremely powerful processor and you get to carry the IBM brand around which is helpful,”” Peddie said. Other areas for the channel will be embedded ATM, point-of-sale and medical equipment.

IBM said that two Canadian companies have purchased Power-based IBM eServer iSeries systems: Memory Experts International of Montreal, a maker of subsystems for networking environments, and Christie Digital of Kitchener, Ont., a manufacturer of video projectors and wall cubes for broadcasting.


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