IBM Sells x86 Server Market to Lenovo

Subject: General Tech, Systems | January 25, 2014 - 07:42 PM |
Tagged: Lenovo, IBM, x86, servers

Lenovo will take (or purchase) the x86 torch away from IBM in the high-end server and mainframe market, too. The deal is worth $2.3 billion of which $2 billion will be cash, the remains will be paid to IBM in stock. IBM walked away from talks with Lenovo last year in a deal that was believed to be similar to this one.

Lenovo, famously, took over IBM's PC business in 2005.


... which is increasingly not IBM.

x86-based servers have been profitable, even for IBM. This is yet another example of a large company with a desire to increase their margins at the expense of overall profits. This is similar to the situation with HP when they considered getting out of consumer devices. Laptops and desktops were still profitable but not as much as, say, an ink cartridge. Sometimes leaving money on the table tells a better story and that is okay. Someone will take it.

Lenovo will also become an authorized reseller of IBM cloud computing and storage solutions (plus some of their software). IBM will continue to operate their server and mainframe businesses based on their own architectures (such as Power and Z/Architecture).

Approximately 7,500 of IBM's current employees will be hired by Lenovo as a part of this agreement. Unfortunately, I do not know how many current employees are affected. 7,500 could be the vast majority of that workforce or only a small fraction of it. Hopefully this deal will not mean too many layoffs, if any at all.

Source: Ars Technica

IBM will use Fusion-IO cards in their servers

Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2013 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: IBM, fusion-io, PCIe SSD, enterprise

IBM's F825, F1650, and F3200 Enterprise Value PCIe SSD cards will use Fusion-IO's architecture to provide their servers with a storage speed boost.  Available for order as of the 22nd of this month you will be able to order these cards in sizes up to 3.2TB.  One caveat mentioned at The Register is the terms of the warranty, it is only good for 1 year or the rated number of program/erase cycles, whichever comes first.  High speed storage will be attractive to enterprise purchasers but having to replace the cards every year may cool their enthusiasm quite a bit.


"IBM's announcement is here, and says the Fusion-io cards are available for System x and BladeCenter servers. Users get from 825GB to 3.2TB of MLC flash per PCIe slot to accelerate apps in these servers, which no longer have to wait at the data access bus-stop for disk drive latency to send the heads to the right tracks."

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Source: The Register

IBM gets serious about flash storage

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2013 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: TMS RamSan, IBM, FlashSystem, flash, 1 billion

IBM has invested $1 billion in SSD research and development, creating a project called IBM FlashSystem.  They will create a dozen 'competency centres' across the globe this year to help customers understand scenarios in which flash storage will help their business.  To show off their prowess they created a 500TB system based on their FlashSystem 820; you can see a video of the system at The Register.  IBM has already signed a deal with Sprint to build 9 storage systems and there will be more customers soon.  IBM is also redesigning their system software to take advantage of the speed of flash which will make the transition even more attractive to companies.


"Say goodbye to TMS RamSan and hello to IBM FlashSystem. Back in 2001, IBM CEO Lou Gerstner said IBM would spend a billion dollars to boost its Linux business and that billion paid itself off within two years. In 2002, the firm splurged the same amount on Java tools, and in 2006, pumped $1bn into information management. Fast-forward seven years and Ginny Rometty's IBM is going to spend a billion dollars to boost its flash solid state storage business."

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Source: The Register

Is there a Flash flood coming?

Subject: General Tech | March 25, 2013 - 12:50 PM |
Tagged: spintronics, racetrack, pram, molybdenum, micron, memristor, IBM, hp, graphene, flash

Over the past several years we have seen actual production of phase change memory from Micron, though no benchmarks yet, transistors whose resistance can be altered to be used as non-volatile storage which HP has dubbed Memristors and IBM's Spintronic Racetrack Memory; all of which claim to be the replacement for NAND.  There is no question we need a new type of flash, preferably non-volatile, as it is likely that there will be a limit on effective speed and density reached with traditional NAND.  It is also true that the path to our current flash technology is littered with the carcasses of failed technology standards, whether RAMBUS is willing to admit it or not. 

Now there is more details available on yet another possible contender based on molybdenum disulfide which sports a charge-trapping layer to make it non-volatile.  The Register was told that by layering MoS2 between layers of graphene they get a NAND cell smaller than traditional cells but unfortunately there was no report of the speed of these cells.  We may soon be living in interesting times, with process shrunk traditional flash and these four technologies competing for market share.  You can bet that they will not be compatible and that each will likely spawn their own breeds of controllers and make purchasing SSDs and other flash storage devices much more complicated, at least until one standard can claim victory over the others.


"A Swiss government research lab has reinvented flash memory using graphene and molybdenite in a way that should be faster, scale smaller, use less energy and yet more flexible than boring old NAND.

Molybdenite is MoS2, molybdenum disulfide, which is similar to graphite and also has a lubricating effect. Atomically it is a layer of molybdenum atoms between top and bottom layers of sulfide atoms. It is a semiconductor and can be used to create transistor."

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Source: The Register

News from the Common Platform Technology Forum

Subject: General Tech | February 12, 2013 - 02:10 PM |
Tagged: IBM, Samsung, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, CNTFETs, nanotubes

You might not think of IBM, Samsung, and GlobalFoundries as working together for a common goal, but much like the HSA the Common Platform Technology Forum brings together some strange bedfellows.  The Tech Report had a chance to sit in on some of the conference and just how this disparate group of Fab owners and pure research companies are working together to shape the future of the silicon beasts we all love to hate.  One of the main topics of discussion was the move to the 14nm process and just how designs must change in order to shrink the process to that size while at the same time increasing wafer size, with GloFo showing off their plans for the near future.  You will also be introduced to the idea of CNTFETs, the proposed carbon nanotube based replacement for Silicon FinFETs which could beat the limits of even Extreme UV lithography if they can be coerced into self assembly.  Read on and check out where the second and third largest Fabs on the planet are headed in the next few years.


"The opportunity doesn't come along every day to get a detailed peek into the future of computing from the people who are building it. Last week, I had just such a chance."

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Hot Chips is coming and IBM has already spilled its beans

Subject: General Tech | August 21, 2012 - 03:27 PM |
Tagged: IBM, power7+, Intel, amd, hot chips

While it doesn't get the news coverage that Intel and AMD's chips do, IBM's Power series has been with us for a while and they seem really excited about the new Power7+ chip that they are about to drop.  They are so excited that they didn't even wait for the Hot Chips conference where many manufacturers will be revealing their new silicon.  For instance, the new chip will carry 32MB of L3 cache, AES and SHA-2 acceleration and models running from a modest 4 cores at 3GHz, a 4GHz 8 core model and a possible 4 core model topping 5GHz if The Register got their maths right.  Check it all out here; with more likely to come at Hot Chips next week.


"The Hot Chips 24 conference hosted by Stanford University is next week, and IBM, Oracle, Advanced Micro Devices, Fujitsu, and Intel are expected to talk tech relating to just-announced or impending processors. But Big Blue seems unable to contain its enthusiasm for the Power7+ chip that it will talk about alongside its next-generation zNext processors for its System z mainframes."

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Source: The Register

Big Blue likes RIM's infrastructure ... the phones not so much

Subject: General Tech | August 13, 2012 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: RIM, blackberry, IBM

One of the scariest things about the failure of RIM to recover from its attempts to move into the consumer market is the damage being done to the services they supply to businesses.  The Enterprise Services Division of RIM handles the servers which ensure secure delivery of messages over the cellular network and is one of the main reasons that RIM devices and the BlackBerry Enterprise Server are the preferred choice of many institutions.  If RIM goes down then that ability to ensure security and to remotely administrate devices will go down with them.  That is why this story on The Register will make many sysadmins very happy, not only is someone interested in purchasing that business unit, the company that is interested is IBM.  They do not have any interest in the actual BlackBerry phones, so this could mean that BES type management could be expanded to more devices and the death of RIM may not mean the death of secure delivery of business emails.  Pity about the CPP though.


"IBM is reportedly interested in snapping up the enterprise services division of troubled BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion.

Well-placed sources whispered to Bloomberg that Big Blue could help Canadian mobile biz RIM by taking the unit off its hands, and has already made an informal approach about it."

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Source: The Register

AMD's new Embedded Solutions Group aims at a new market

Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2012 - 01:01 PM |
Tagged: amd, arm, IBM, Freescale, AFDS, ESG

According to the VDC Research Group's findings, the embedded market will hit $6bn in sales in 2012 and keep growing at a rate of 12%-15% per year.  AMD seems poised to move into this market with the formation of their Embedded Solution Group and the changes we have been seeing to their processor lines.  Current Opteron HE and EE chips consume between 35W and 65W depending on the number of cores and that amount might be trimmed down as new models come out.  They also have lines of embedded Athlon, Turion, Sempron, and Geode LX based chips and have hired an FPGA veteran, Arun Iyengar, to manage the ESG though The Register expresses doubt that AMD is thinking of developing it's own FPGA business.  More likely they hope to provide powerful alternatives for those in the market that now need a little more from their embedded products.  Read the full story here and keep your eyes peeled for more news coming out of the AMD Fusion Developer Summit.


"The new management team at Advanced Micro Devices is looking everywhere, including under the couch cushions, to find some money so it can afford to explore the embedded systems market again. The chip biz hopes rivals Intel and the ARM collective are too distracted to notice the foray as they fight over each others' territories in PCs, servers and mobile devices."

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Source: The Register

Good things come in interesting packages; IBM's new chip substrate

Subject: General Tech | March 21, 2012 - 01:14 PM |
Tagged: IBM, power 7+, interposer, packaging

In the typically bass ackwards way of technology, an interposer actually acts as an interface for electrical signals to be routed or spread as opposed to something which acts as a barrier between two objectsToday SemiAccurate's camera caught a picture of an engineering sample of IBM's Power 7+ chip which, according to them, represents a huge step forward in a direction only IBM is going in.  That interposer allows a huge amount of bandwidth between the four cores on the larger chip below, without specifications it is hard to say how much but it is quite possibly be more effective than either Intel or AMD's current solutions.  As SemiAccurate points out, the interposer is just begging to be filled with cache memory.


"Every once in a while, a company will do something really unexpected, like IBM’s laying down the law in packaging last week. Yes, they showed off a chip, two actually, that does things no one else is even talking about doing."

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Source: SemiAccurate

AMD and IBM inside the Xbox Next?

Subject: Processors | January 18, 2012 - 04:10 PM |
Tagged: xbox next, IBM, amd, Power PC, southern islands, xbox 720, oban

SemiAccurate has been doing some digging into the hardware that will power the next XBox, perhaps a bit more successfully than Microsoft would like.  This builds on the rumours that they had collected in December of 2011 and confirms that the next generation console is only a partial win for AMD.  Oban is the code name for the CPU, which is being fabbed by GLOBALFOUNDRIES for the most part and will be a variant model of IBM's Power PC architecture and not an x86 based chip.  AMD will provide a Graphics Core Next Southern Islands GPU to provide the graphical power, terrible news for NVIDIA's bottom line over the next several years as they lose out on at least one platform of the coming generation.  This will continue to sting as unlike PCs, consoles are not refreshed several times over a year and the current hardware will likely be powering the XBox Next for years to come.

From what SemiAccurate has gathered, Microsoft have ordered a huge run of the chips which will power the console and should guarantee availability in the Spring of 2013 which is the current predicted release date for the console.  Considering the low yields from GLOBALFOUNDRIES lately this seems likely a move to ensure that even a large amount of bad silicon will not have a major impact on their ability to provide deep supplies of XBox Next for retailers.  


"If you crave more info about the upcoming XBox 720/Next, there is finally some concrete info. The one nice thing about this job is that proud parents like to talk, and that is exactly where this story begins."

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Source: SemiAccurate