Chief technologist says future Power Architecture chips may physically reconfigure themselves to adapt to applicationsNew York, March 31, 2004
- IBM today outlined plans to openly collaborate and build a community of innovation around its Power microprocessor architecture used in a vast range of products from the world's most powerful enterprise systems and supercomputers to games and embedded devices. The move could have major implications for computers and the electronics industry at large.
This unprecedented step by IBM is designed to create a platform for innovation that enables researchers and electronics makers to add the features and capabilities that will drive new devices and applications. The move recognizes the fact that it is the final chip designs — more than the underlying architecture — where innovation is taking place to create entire systems in silicon, not just electronics components.
Also, for the first time, IBM demonstrated its upcoming POWER5 microprocessor running multiple operating systems in virtual micropartitions. POWER5, which is IBM's own high-end design using the Power Architecture, will drive future versions of IBM's industry-leading server and storage systems. The PowerPC implementation of Power Architecture will continue to serve the OEM community.
At an event called Power Everywhere held here today, IBM described how the Power Architecture is gaining momentum, including several major new licensing agreements, customers, products and technology demonstrations. Most notable were new IBM programs that incent other companies, business partners and university researchers to use the technology to create a wide variety of chips that can power a diverse set of electronics products.Those steps include:
- broadening access: through expanded licensing, with Sony announced as the newest Power licensee
- encouraging innovation: jumpstarting a new open community with new services centers and new, no-charge design tools
- opening development input: by exploring an open governance model to guide the future of Power Architecture
- expanding manufacturing options: enabling chip foundries to manufacture Power chips
" Power is the leading architecture for silicon innovation," said Nick Donofrio, IBM senior vice president, technology and manufacturing. "In fact, Power was designed from the ground up for massive scalability and is the most customized processor in the world. The time is right to establish it as a more open, modular and pervasive platform, accelerating the creation of next generation devices, systems and applications."New Licensee
Sony today disclosed that it has licensed the Power Architecture from IBM. Sony said Power offers versatility and a unique combination of low power and high performance, making it optimal for a wide range of consumer devices.New Customers
New Product and Demonstration
- L-3 Communications announced it has signed an agreement with IBM that could be worth as much as $80M over the next five years. L-3 said it is working with IBM on several fronts, including custom chips and other ways to leverage Power Architecture designs in defense, aerospace and homeland security applications.
- The Global Brands Manufacture Group, based in China, today announced a multi-million dollar agreement with IBM to explore using Power Architecture technology in its consumer products, including desktop and notebook computers, DVD players and digital cameras. GBM Group will work with IBM Engineering & Technology Services to create these consumer solutions.
- Three customers — Memory Experts International, Block/Goldring, and Christie Digital — are replacing HP servers with Power-based eServer iSeries systems to simplify their IT infrastructure and help lower costs.
- Princeton University today announced it is installing a new Power-based system to support research into areas such as Alzheimer's disease, spinal cord injury, diabetes, strokes and heart disease. The results will be shared with more than two dozen institutions worldwide.
New Community Support for Users
- Power Blade — the IBM eServer™ BladeCenter™ JS20 - the industry's first blade system based on Power Architecture. The Medical College of Wisconsin plans to implement the JS20 BladeCenter as the heart of the new computing infrastructure for proteomics research. Researchers at the University of Oregon Neuroinformatics Center will use the JS20 as part of an advanced Grid computing infrastructure to apply high-performance computing to diagnosing and treating brain-related conditions.
- Providing a peek at the coming era of "personal supercomputing," IBM Research demonstrated a compact Power-based "BlueGene" supercomputer with 64 processors. The system provides a concept of the power of integration and density, offering the potential for a world where enterprises and scientists can easily and affordably access significant computing power to enable a new generation of innovators.
A New, Open Hardware Era
- A portal for the Power Architecture community. This portal is the first step in building a broader community around the Power Architecture, providing a place to gather, find resources and begin establishing a governance model to help guide future directions for innovation and collaboration.
- IBM introduced the Power Architecture Pack. The pack is a no-charge evaluation kit that lets designers create custom Power chips in a simulation environment. It can be downloaded at no charge from an IBM Web site and allows engineers to simulate a system-on-chip design based on their own intellectual property coupled with a Power processor.
- IBM will establish worldwide Power Architecture Centers to provide customer design assistance for Power chips, cards and systems. (Initially this support will be available from IBM design engineers with an intent to add third party expertise through a certification process.)
- IBM is also introducing an innovative software technology — the first of its kind — to help customers integrate custom chip and packaging design technology. This "tool kit" will be available to IBM customers at no charge and consists of three main elements: a graphical interface for chip designers, an optimized package design tool and a verification tool to help ensure that the final package design matches the chip designers specifications.
For years, individual computer chip and system suppliers have pursued their own processor architectures, using the technical merits of one or another to differentiate their products. But these differences have slowed innovation as users of the technology have had to help manage inconsistencies and incompatibilities that resulted and wait for innovation to take place at the discretion of the technology's owner.
Now, with electronics-makers looking to add computer intelligence to a wide array of products, a new chip design model is called for — one that combines the broad availability and low cost of a standard processor, yet provides the freedom to modify and adapt it to the exact form needed. With this announcement, IBM is creating the best of both worlds: a more open, standard processor architecture from which customers can build exactly the chip they need.
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.
The Power Architecture has already been used to create chips for everything from game systems to PCs to servers to supercomputers. IBM has been the leading producer of custom chips for five consecutive years, with Power cores at the heart of nearly half the designs. Now, with more than half the world's foundry capacity able to build chips based on Power Architecture, knowledge centers around the world, a set of reference designs, a broad ecosystem of partners, and widespread availability of tools, the adoption of Power is expected to accelerate, in turn driving further software development and continued advancement of the architecture.Morphing Chips
In a presentation at Power Everywhere, Dr. Bernard Meyerson, chief technologist, IBM Systems & Technology Group disclosed that IBM is working on future Power chips that can physically reconfigure themselves — adding memory or accelerators, for example — to optimize performance or power utilization for a specific application.
"In the future, the chip you have may not be the chip you bought," said Dr. Meyerson.