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IBM and Freescale really commit to Power

They're not bitter

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Spurned by Apple, IBM and Freescale have stunned the technology world by announcing that PC processor technology has become boring and is a dead end. With that in mind, the pair plan to reinvigorate their partnership around the Power processor architecture.

During a joint press conference, Freescale revealed that it has joined IBM's Power.org organization as a founding member. That's a neat trick, as the Power.org "ecosystem" effort was started by IBM back in 2004. Apparently, it just takes the right amount of co-marketing dollars to shift from laggard to founding member.

In addition, IBM and Freescale said they plan to share a common instruction set across all Power market segments, and plan to be more open with roadmaps and shared marketing efforts. Lastly, the two vendors will zero in on advancing Linux for Power.

These moves back up an ongoing effort to put Power chips in everything from supercomputers to automobiles.

"Innovation is no longer centered around the PC," said John Kelly, SVP of technology at IBM, during the press conference.

Such a statement serves as an obvious jab against Apple and its new chip partner, Intel. IBM and Freescale - a spin-off of Motorola - worked as Apple's chip suppliers until losing the company as a customer last year.

Now, the two companies have pledged not to let Intel take over other parts of the processor market, ranging from high-end servers to game consoles, and the embedded segments where Freescale works to produce hardware for networking kit, industrial equipment, media consoles and cars.

The strong Power architecture has proved troubling to Intel - a point not lost on IBM.

Big Blue has been working hard in recent years to drum up support around Power and have the product adopted in a wide range of markets. It allows customers to build their own, proprietary add-ons to the chip, and also fosters the sharing of technology among Power supporters where applicable.

Kelly said this is a huge difference when compared to Intel, which likes to maintain total control over its popular Pentium and Xeon chips.

IBM and Freescale stressed that the really interesting work in processor design is happening away from the PC, and the two vendors have pledged to attack these "compelling" markets together. ®

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