Electronics giant Samsung is now a member of the IBM-led OpenPower Consortium. The industry group’s mission is promoting chip designs based on the IBM Power chip, for use in data Relevant Products/Services center hardware and other products.
Last summer, IBM announced the formation of the consortium, following its decision to license the Power architecture. The OpenPower Foundation, the actual entity behind the consortium, opened up the Power architecture technology, including specs, firmware and software under a license. Firmware is offered as open source. Originally, OpenPower was the brand of a range of System p servers from IBM that utilized the Power5 CPU. Samsung’s products currently utilize both x86 and ARM-based processors.
The intention of the consortium is to develop advanced servers, networking, storage and GPU-acceleration technology for new products. The four priority technical areas for development are system software, application software, open server development platform and hardware architecture.
Samsung will join Google, Tyan, Mellanox and the China-based Suzhou PowerCore Technology Company and the Research Institute of Jiangsu Industrial Technology and Nvidia as members of the alliance. Until now Power-based servers have been released only by IBM, but Tyan is expected to be the first server maker outside IBM to release a Power-based server. Nvidia has also announced it would plug its graphics processors into Power-based systems.
What role Samsung will play in the OpenPower Consortium was not disclosed. Samsung has dabbled with a number of chip architectures including x86 and ARM. The company makes mobile chips called Exynos based on ARM architecture that are used in its smartphones and tablets, and the company is also making ARM-based server chips. Samsung also offers laptops based on x86 chips from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices.
Samsung has dabbled with different hardware technologies and standards in mobile devices and laptops, and usually joins multiple standards organizations.
Last month two Chinese organizations, Suzhou PowerCore Technology Company and the Research Institute of Jiangsu Industrial Technology, also joined the OpenPower Consortium.
The OpenPower Consortium also named Gordon MacKean as the new chairman. MacKean is currently the engineering director of the platforms group at Google.
There have been reports of IBM trying to sell off its semiconductor operations, though the company has declined to comment on the topic. IBM in January agreed to sell its x86 server business to Lenovo for US$2.3 billion.