IBM hopes portal will build Power community

Big Blue wants to create a Linux-like community that will foster the development of more hardware and software for Power-based devices.

IBM on Monday will take a step toward establishing an online community for developers that use its Power processor architecture.

The company will announce plans to establish a Power portal, which it hopes will become a network for users of the chips and for third parties building Power-based products.

IBM, which announced its intention to make the Power architecture more open in March, has said that making its chip technology easier to work with will foster more development and increase Power's presence in a variety of electronic devices. That, in turn, could boost Power chip sales and increase demand for IBM chip manufacturing and design services.

Ultimately, Big Blue hopes to create a Linux-like community around the chip architecture. The plan is to foster an open marketplace--one that encourages the creation and selling of hardware and software for Power-based devices. The company also sees this environment as one in which users of Power chips will regularly offer feedback on features and enhancements they would like IBM to add, the company has said.

IBM's Power architecture provides the underpinnings for a wide range of processors. They range from IBM's Power family of high-end server chips to its PowerPC processors for computers, servers, handhelds and networking gear.

The portal, to be announced Monday, dubbed the Power Architecture portal, represents a first step toward this goal. IBM is aiming for the site to serve not only as a source for technical information but also as a community meeting place that may foster work on a governance model to help guide future collaboration around Power.

The portal, as well as IBM's other online developer resources, will also offer software tools for creating chips and testing software, a company representative said.

One such tool, IBM's Power Architecture Pack, will help designers create custom Power chip designs on computer workstations, simulating system-on-chip processors that combine their own technology with Power processors.

System-on-chip processors typically include a processor core, input-output and all of the other elements required to run an electronic device. The chips are often used in consumer electronics devices, such as set-top boxes and networking gear.

Meanwhile, IBM will also provide tools for testing its middleware software for Power-based servers that run Linux. Aside from aiming to make Power open for development, IBM hopes to make Power servers available at the same cost as those that use Intel processors.

Other online developer resources will include an introductory developer's guide to the PowerPC microprocessor that covers elements of the chips, the representative said.

In addition to its attempt to popularize Power, IBM has made a number of other changes to its chip business recently, including establishing chip foundry and design businesses and combining its microelectronics and server groups into a new systems and technology group.

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