IBM Joins Forces with Google, NVIDIA and others in OpenPower Core Licensing Alliance

IBM is following in the footsteps of ARM and will begin licensing its core intellectual property for its POWER technologies to other companies for use in designing servers employed in cloud data centers, the company announced. The licensing model is part of IBM's OpenPOWER Consortium, a new initiative aimed at expanding the technology choices available to modern IT developers, or so the official explanation goes.

In reality, IBM is offering up its POWER chip technology to anyone who wants it, which in the long run will make IBM (and its hardware partners) more competitive with AMD and Intel. IBM has already found some willing participants to join its consortium, including Google, Mellanox, TYAN, and NVIDIA.


"Up until now, IBM primarily used the POWER design in its own servers. This new initiative makes it possible for cloud services and their technology providers to redesign the chips and circuit boards where computing is done—optimizing the interactions of microprocessors, memory, networking, data storage and other components," IBM said. "As a result, they can get servers that are custom-tuned for their applications. Think of it as a license to innovate—delivering more choice, control and flexibility to developers of cloud data centers."

In a separate statement, Google talked up the OpenPOWER Consortium and the potential it has for establishing IBM's POWER architecture "as a viable option for applications running within Google's datacenters." That's a pretty big deal considering Google plans to build more servers in the next three years than it has in the past eight years, according to Richard Doherty, research director at The Envisioning Group.