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Big Blue POWER Surge

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At an event appropriately named “POWER Everywhere,” IBM Wednesday revealed the destination for the next generation of its RISC-based chip: Everywhere. The next step in its on-demand strategy is to make the POWER architecture available in everything from consumer electronics to supercomputers, IBM officials said.

IBM offers a glimpse of POWER5 and reveals plans to expand the processor’s reach.

During the news conference here, IBM executives outlined the changes in store for POWER. Most notably, Big Blue will open up the design process for developers to make the chips more pervasive in the heavily competitive computing industry. “Integration will eclipse gigahertz,” Bernard Meyerson, IBM fellow and chief technologist, said.

The company also demonstrated its pending POWER5 architecture in an eServer box. The next generation of the chip will allow virtualization at the processor level, thus enabling multiple operating systems to run off of one chip (or multiple) chips. Commercial products based on the next-generation architecture are expected to be unveiled in the second half of 2004, most likely starting with a pSeries offering, company officials said.

POWER chips are already found in anything from Apple G3 and G5 computers to IBM’s own blade servers, but Big Blue is deepening its strategy by announcing new endorsements. Sony is the largest new addition to this pool. The electronics giant pledged to license POWER for its next-generation of digital consumer electronics products, which includes its popular PlayStation gaming console. IBM also inked new technology and development contracts with L-3 Communications and China’s Global Brands Manufacture Group.

IBM will also power up its BladeCenter product.A POWER-based eServer BladeCenter JS20 will begin shipping globally in April. The JS20 uses the PowerPC 970 processor used in current iSeries and pSeries servers to enable 64-bit computing via blades. It can run and interoperate in the same rack as the HS20, a 2-way Intel Blade, and the HS40, a 4-way Intel-based blade server, Brian Connors, IBM vice president of Linux on pSeries, told ServerWatch. The JS20 runs SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 and Turbolinux Enterprise Server 8 and is considered part of the pSeries; the HS blades are Intel-based and considered part of the xSeries. They support Windows as well as Red Hat and SUSE Linux. An AIX-based blade is expected to join the arsenal later this year, Conners said.

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