IBM, originally one of the most proprietary of companies, is taking a page from the Open Compute Project's book and making its latest Power8 chip designs, and the specs for the new Power8 server motherboard, available to both collaborators and competitors.
Under this OpenPower ecosystem, any partner or competitor may negotiate a license with IBM and take Power8 designs to a chip fabricator to produce CPUs for its own products. They may likewise take Power chips and use them in their own servers and products, said Steve Sibley, IBM's director of Power Systems, in an interview.
IBM plans to announce both moves at an Innovation Summit in San Francisco Wednesday, in part because support for OpenPower has come from some large West Coast partners. Google, an original member (along with Mellanox, Nvidia, and Tyan) of the OpenPower Foundation organized last August, has expressed interest in using IBM Power8 servers. Google hasn't specified whether it's looking to Power8 for big-data processing servers or general purpose, search engine, and cloud computing servers.
Tyan, a custom hardware manufacturer with engineering centers in Taiwan, China, and the US, announced Wednesday it has produced a Power8 reference design for whitebox server production.
Another open hardware initiative, the Open Compute Project founded by Facebook, includes Dell and HP, as well as small third-party manufacturers including Hyve, Avnet, and Penguin, that produce custom whitebox designs. Open Compute began two years before OpenPower's launch.
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