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IBM Offers Free PowerPC License To Universities

This is the first time IBM has made a license for its products freely available to academia.

SAN FRANCISCO — IBM Corp. Wednesday (Dec. 14) announced plans to make the specifications of the company's PowerPC 405 core freely available to researchers and academia.

IBM said it plans to coordinate the contribution of the 405 core through, an open community of developers, tool providers and manufacturers developing standards and applications around the Power Architecture. was formed one year ago to enable and promote Power Architecture technology as the preferred collaborative hardware development platform for the electronics industry.

Nigel Beck, chairman of, described Wednesday's announcement as the next step in opening up the Power Architecture. It marks the first time that IBM will make available a "zero-cost" license to researchers and academia, enabling them to take the Power register-transfer level (RTL) code and develop it.

"This is consistent with what we have been doing for the past year," Beck said, adding that the strategy was to start with the creation of infrastructure. "There needs to be a catcher for the IP you are pitching," he said

According to IBM, the move comes in response to requests by leading educators in computer science and participants in collaborative multi-core processing research projects, such as the Research Accelerator for Multiple Processors (RAMP). RAMP is led by the University of California-Berkeley, Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), University of Texas–Austin and the University of Washington.

RAMP researchers will now be able to map this core into their FPGA-based systems or new chip architecture experiments, IBM said.

Tuesday, formed an advisory board of leading venture capitalists to help propel the organization's efforts in driving increased investment in Power technology.

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