Informing the IBM Community

Non-IBM Power iron to hit streets early next year


Non-IBM Power hardware

A report by New York-based IDG journalist Agam Shah claims that the first third-party servers licensed to use IBM’s Power architecture will be on the market early next year.

Shah quoted Ken King, general manager, OpenPower alliances, at IBM’s Systems and Technology Group as saying that the first non-IBM Power servers will be used for cloud and high-end applications. King said that, ultimately, low-end servers could use Power chips but that was for the third-party manufacturers involved in the OpenPower Foundation to decide.

IBM formed the OpenPower Foundation in August, 2013, to let other server manufacturers and large end-users build their own customised server, networking and storage hardware based on its Power processors.

Google, which recently revealed details of its home-grown Power-based motherboards, Tyan, Nvidia and Mellanox were founder members. Since then, membership has swelled to around 20 including Samsung, Hitachi and the new boy at the server giants’ table, China’s Inspur.

King even said that derivative Power8 chips designed outside IBM could be used in this new generation of third-party servers. However, a timeline for the commercial availability of third-party Power8 chips had not been confirmed.

King was apparently unconcerned that non-IBM Power hardware would compete with its own midrange and mainframe offerings. The reason for licensing Power to other vendors was so that the architecture would proliferate in more servers.

King said: “It’s about making Power more relevant in the marketplace.”

Shah also spoke to Charles King, a principal analyst at Pund-IT, who described Big Blue’s OpenPower initiative as a good move. While it may lose its own Power server shipments, there could be revenue from licensing, services and system deployments.

Pund-IT’s King said: “One thing Power is effective at as compared to x86 is the ability to support a larger number of virtual machines in a concurrent system. Power CPUs support classic reliability, availability and serviceability features that IBM servers are well known for.”

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