Rochester IBM plays key role in chip, server launch

When IBM rolled out a new computer chip and three new server models Monday, Rochester Big Blue leaders say it was much more than just giving the latest upgrade a new version number.

Not only is the Power7 chip three to four times more powerful than the Power6 chip, which IBM introduced in 2007, but the servers that work with the Power7 processors can automatically adjust between greater energy efficiency and better performance.

The processor, which is a key component of IBM's Smarter Planet initiative, brings a new level of flexibility to Big Blue's power server lines. The Rochester IBM campus played a big part in the development of the Power7 processor, in which IBM invested $3.2 billion during the last three and half years, said Ian Jarman, manager of IBM's power systems software in Rochester.

"This is a very significant announcement for the industry that is expected to have a major impact on the UNIX marketplace," Jarman said. "It is a huge leap."

And it is a leap that many expect will solidify IBM's dominance of the $14 billion UNIX server market over competitors Hewlett-Packard and Sun. According to data from industry analyst IDC, IBM controls almost 40 percent of the UNIX server market and has gained ground in the last few years.


Three Power7 servers — the 750, 770 and 780 — were introduced Monday. All three are manufactured in Rochester.

While IBM prides itself on all of its project "integrated" throughout the company, with employees at many sites such as Austin, Texas, and Poughkeepsie, N.Y., contributing to this project, Rochester hands have been very involved in the creation or the new processor and the new servers.

"We are right in the center of the action. It is directly relevant to Rochester," Jarman said.  "It underscores how much Rochester is a key part of the integrated IBM."

While the hardware is on stage because of the Power7, this roll-out goes beyond that by being the first server to be able to use all three of IBM's operating systems "from day one," Jarman said.

It should calm many of IBM's customers who have been concerned about the future of that operating system since IBM combined its System i and System p servers together in 2008.

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