IBM has outlined plans to create a broad community of development for its Power Architecture, which it claims will lead to a greater range of products.
Big Blue likened the new level of collaboration to the open source software movement, saying that innovation in the IT industry is now impossible without broad collaboration across the industry. It also said Sony has licensed its Power Architecture.
"This is a watershed in the history of computing because we are establishing the Power Architecture as an open, modular and pervasive platform," said Nick Donofrio, IBM senior vice president, technology and manufacturing.
Donofrio said the move would allow IBM to explore what it calls the "community model" that will free developers from the restraints of the proprietary processor model.
But he added that the basic instruction set remained "highly controlled".
In a statement the company said: "IBM also will explore the notion of opening up our community and collaboration around Power Architecture.
"We will look at new governance models that will allow us to involve the community in Power Architecture's future and to help set the stage for further innovation."
IBM will also begin shipping the first blade servers with Power technology. The eServer BladeCenter JS20 will support both SuSE Linux and Turbolinux, with additional support for Red Hat in the second quarter of 2004.
Forrester Research analyst Brad Day commented that the move would give IT managers the chance to get better deals. "2004 is turning out to be a significant year for the battle between different processor architectures," he said.
"This is IBM stating more clearly that Power is being funded by a very broad approach, but the bottom line for chief information officers is that they can negotiate hard for good prices, especially if they are willing to be reference sites for Power5."
Power5, a dual core processor using multi-threading technology, will be available on IBM's eServer pSeries Unix systems later this year and is expected to deliver significant speed improvements.
Day predicted that the Power 'ecosystem' would help IBM increase its share of the enterprise server market.
IBM's Power Architecture, first announced in 1990, has been used in everything from games systems and PCs to servers and supercomputers.
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