IBM is looking to expand its OEM program for servers based on its Power architecture, a move thats in line with larger company initiatives to grow the platform.
IBM already has OEM relationships with Hitachi Ltd., in Tokyo, and French computer maker Bull, which sell not only Power systems but also IBMs Unix operating system—AIX—and related software, said Karl Freund, vice president of IBMs pSeries. However, IBM is talking with several other computer companies that are interested in IBM making Power systems for them, Freund said.
"With the phenomenal market growth of Power and [the Power5 processor], we have a lot of interested parties," Freund said. "Its only been discussions [up to this point], but they are interested in the market performance of Power and AIX."
In the second quarter, IBM was the top RISC vendor, followed by Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co., according to numbers compiled by Gartner Inc., of Stamford, Conn. Any OEM deals IBM could strike would bring more competitors into a highly competitive space, which Intel Corp. also is targeting with its 64-bit Itanium processors.
Freund declined to name the interested companies or talk about the extent of the discussions but said that IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., is always looking for ways to expand the reach of the Power architecture. "I cant be specific on what were discussing," he said. "[However,] its reasonable to expect well grow additional [Power OEM customers]. ... Its an integral part of our Power Everywhere push."
Last fall, IBM launched its OpenPower systems, Power5-based servers specifically built to run Linux. In March 2004, IBM unveiled its Power Everywhere marketing initiative. Central to the program—designed to bring the architecture to a broad range of devices—was opening up its Power platform to encourage other vendors to develop hardware devices and applications on it.
Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata Inc., in Nashua, N.H., said OEM programs for Power systems would benefit IBM but questioned how relative it is to the Power Everywhere and OpenPower initiatives. "Certainly Power Everywhere, to some level, includes OEMing systems, though, for the most part, its more focused on the use of the Power architecture by various partners in client devices, game consoles, whatever, than it is in computer systems," said Haff.