After opening up its Power PC architecture last August, IBM on Wednesday unveiled a new line of servers built to challenge Intel’s x86 architecture inside the data center. IBM said it will deploy those servers in its SoftLayer cloud.
IBM and other members of the OpenPower Foundation, which will manage the Power architecture, also showed off a white box server built by Tyan that was running firmware and an operating system developed by IBM, Google, and Canonical. Taken together, these and other announcements made today around the OpenPower Foundation are an effort to keep the Power architecture relevant and to provide a piece of silicon that IBM is hoping can handle big data — the next generation workload everyone’s salivating over in the infrastructure world.
With that in mind, IBM’s new line of Power Systems servers were built on an open instruction set — much like what Facebook has built with its Open Compute efforts for servers and storage, but at the chip level. It’s a similar strategy to what ARM has done by making its IP cores available for license, only IBM is even giving up the licensing revenue. This means any chipmaker could build a processor using the Power instruction set without paying for the underlying IP.