IBM Opens Power Platform

Big Blue plans to open its Power microprocessor platform to allow other companies to use it as a building block for products.

NEW YORK—Taking the game plan implemented so successfully by Linux proponents, IBM will open up its Power microprocessor platform to enable other companies to innovate on top of the architecture.

The goal is to enable Power-based solutions to grow to the point where much of the technology developed—from the smallest embedded systems to the largest supercomputers—is created atop the Power architecture, IBM officials said Wednesday at a news conference here.

To reach that goal, executives said they will aggressively reach out to partners and move to develop a vibrant community that will use the Power platform as a key building block for products that will be easily integrated with each other.

"We need a whole community of innovators to help us bring Power everywhere we want to take it," Irving Wladawsky-Berger, vice president for technology and strategy at IBM, told a room of more than 100 reporters and analysts. "Only through collaboration can a technology become a platform for innovation."

Over the past few years, IBM has been moving in this direction, with various partnerships with such companies as Apple Computer Inc., Samsung and Red Hat Inc. At the event here, executives laid out several aggressive plans to create an ecosystem that will remake the Power platform into a more open and customizable technology.

IBM, based in Armonk, N.Y., is creating a portal where other technology companies can find resources and information regarding the architecture and begin creating a model that can be used to guide innovation in the future. At the same time, IBM is offering a free Power Architecture Pack that will enable companies to evaluate and create custom chips based on Power and their own technology in a simulated environment.

A software tool kit, which will include an interface for chip developers, a design tool and a verification tool, will further help customers in their creation of custom chips.

In addition, the company will open Power Architecture Centers around the world that will help companies design Power-based software and systems. Initially staffed by IBM employees, eventually they will include third-party experts certified by Big Blue.

Next page: Power5 release is on the horizon.