IBM quits Motorola venture

IBM quits Motorola venture
Tom Foremski IBM has pulled out of the joint Motorola/IBM Somerset Centre which was set up in 1992 to develop the PowerPC as a rival to Intel’s x86 microprocessor. Since then Intel has powered ahead to take over 90 per cent of the computer CPU market and is currently being sued by the US government for abuse of a monopoly position, while PowerPC has found only one major computer company – Apple – to use the chip as a computer CPU. The two companies will continue to work on future directions for the PowerPC, both for desktop and embedded applications. “What’s been accomplished at Somerset is quite extraordinary but it is time to transition to its next phase which is to focus more on developing PowerPC for the embedded space,” said Ken Phillips, director of strategic communications at Motorola. Motorola will solely fund Somerset from now on. “The Somerset move is not completely unexpected,” said Will Strauss, of US market research firm Forward Concepts. “There is a real difference of opinion between Motorola and IBM on future PowerPC designs. Motorola recently introduced the Altivec PowerPC , but IBM wants to boost clock speeds instead.” The differences came to a head, said Strauss, after Apple killed its Mac clone programme. Apple says it will continue to buy from both IBM and Motorola but it seems to be shifting more towards Motorola and its Altivec-enhanced PowerPC chips. Altivec brings high DSP performance to the PowerPC, similar to Intel’s MMX technology, but Altivec processing performance exceeds that of MMX (see Electronics Weekly, May 13). This is a key differentiating point in Apple’s battle to hold onto market share. Meanwhile, IBM is working on faster versions of the Power- PC that will use its copper interconnect technology.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*