IBM recently revealed plans to license their Power chips to other companies much like ARM is successfully doing with their own processors in the mobile sector. IBM is creating the OpenPower Consortium as part of the effort alongside partners that include Google, Nvidia, Mellanox and Tyan.
In a blog post on the matter, senior vice president of IBM’s systems and technology group Tom Rosamilia said the consortium will spawn an ecosystem consisting of both hardware and software developers to help drive innovation with regards to cloud computing.
We’ll use the mobile chip business as an example. Where Intel is a rarity in that they make their own chips, companies like Nvidia design a chip and send it to a third-party like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. who is actually responsible for building it.
Taking it a step further (as IBM plans to do), ARM licenses their microprocessor designs to companies like Apple, Nvidia and Qualcomm under the agreement that they are able to add their own logic blocks to the ARM design and have it built at the foundry of their choice.
Under the OpenPower initiative, IBM will license their core intellectual property to companies in the consortium for use in designing servers for cloud data centers. Rosamilia pointed out that up until now, IBM primarily used the Power design in their own servers but the new program will allow companies to get servers custom-tuned for their applications.