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IBM opens up Power design, partners with Google

Agam Shah | Aug. 7, 2013
The two vendors and others form the OpenPower Consortium to push the chip design to new products.

More features are being etched on to smaller and smaller chips, and IBM's move to open up Power could be tied to that trend, said Mercury Research's McCarron.

"What you can see over time, with all these architectures, integration and migration has been the theme," McCarron said.

Companies may not want to put multiple chips in a system, and instead would prefer to build a single chip with all the features integrated.

"It's an acknowledgement of where the industry is headed and that is that discrete solutions are not going to play in products," McCarron said.

Intel won't sit back and will have a competitive response, McCarron said. The world's largest chip maker could cut the prices on its server chips, or even open up testing and design of its chips.

"If it represented any significant threat to their server business, there will be a strong response," McCarron said.

One of the more interesting aspects of OpenPower is IBM and Google partnering with Nvidia, which is tuning its CUDA parallel programming toolkit for Power processors. Both could help resolve the issue around the software and make Power another good alternative, McGregor said.

"If you could combine the big iron performance of Power with the efficiency of ARM and the parallelism of a GPU, you could develop some really interesting and diverse solutions," McGregor said.

(James Niccolai of the IDG News Service in San Francisco contributed to this story.)


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