IBM Invests $1 Billion to Drum Up Demand of Power Linux

Michael Vizard
Sep. 18 2013, 09:00AM EDT

A lot of developers just naturally assume their applications will run on Intel x86 server, but following the announcement of a $1 billion investment in building out the ecosystem around Linux running on Power processors IBM is hoping to alter that perception.

Following the creation of an OpenPOWER consortium to drive the development of next-generation Power processors, IBM at the LinuxCon 2013 conference announced that it will spend $1 billion building Linux and related open source technologies that can be deployed on IBM Power platforms.

Included in the investment is a new free Linux on Power cloud computing service that developers can use to prototype, build, port, and test Linux applications on the Power platform in addition to applications that can run on the IBM AIX and IBM i operating systems.

In addition, IBM announced it is opening another Power Systems Linux Center in Montpellier, France to complement centers that already exist in New York, Austin, Tex, and Beijing.

According to Jim Wasko, director of the IBM Linux Technology Centers, IBM is looking to position the Power platform as being better suited for next generation compute-intensive workloads associated with Big Data analytics and emerging cognitive computing applications. As part of that effort Wasko says IBM has already made available a free software development kit for developing Linux applications on both Power and Intel platforms.

IBM is trying to make a case for processors that are at the heart of a Power platform that from a pricing perspective has never been more competitive with Intel x86 servers. The challenge now is drumming up a stronger base of Linux applications that can run on the Power processors that IBM relies on to deliver the IBM Watson text analytics platform. The more applications the greater the demand there will be for IBM Power processors, which IBM needs to keep the cost of building Power processors competitive with the level of scale that Intel can easily bring to x86 processors development.

While no one should expect IBM to usurp Intel in the area of server dominance, for certain classes of applications IBM is making the case that Power processors have a fundamentally better architecture when it comes to driving application performance. The goal now, says Wasko, is getting developers to appreciate that difference in a way that results in the development of broad set of new applications that will help ensure the long term economic future of the Power processor architecture.

Michael Vizard

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