IBM Plans Industry’s First Openly Customizable Microprocessor
IBM has outlined plans to openly collaborate and build a community of innovation around its Power microprocessor architecture used in a vast range of products from the world’s most powerful enterprise systems and supercomputers to games and embedded devices. The move could have major implications for computers and the electronics industry at large.
This step by IBM is designed to create a platform for innovation that enables researchers and electronics makers to add the features and capabilities that will drive new devices and applications. The move recognizes the fact that it is the final chip designs —- more than the underlying architecture — where innovation is taking place to create entire systems in silicon, not just electronics components.
Also, for the first time, IBM demonstrated its upcoming POWER5 microprocessor running multiple operating systems in virtual micropartitions. POWER5, which is IBM’s own high-end design using the Power Architecture, will drive future versions of IBM’s industry-leading server and storage systems. The PowerPC implementation of Power Architecture will continue to serve the OEM community.
At an event called Power Everywhere, IBM described how the Power Architecture is gaining momentum, including several major new licensing agreements, customers, products and technology demonstrations. Most notable were new IBM programs that incent other companies, business partners and university researchers to use the technology to create a wide variety of chips that can power a diverse set of electronics products.
Those steps include broadening access: through expanded licensing, with Sony announced as the newest Power licensee, encouraging innovation: jump starting a new open community with new services centers and new, no-charge design tools, opening development input: by exploring an open governance model to guide the future of Power Architecture and expanding manufacturing options: enabling chip foundries to manufacture Power chips.
“Power is the leading architecture for silicon innovation,” said Nick Donofrio, IBM senior vice president, technology and manufacturing. “In fact, Power was designed from the ground up for massive scalability and is the most customized processor in the world. The time is right to establish it as a more open, modular and pervasive platform, accelerating the creation of next generation devices, systems and applications.”