Power.org Creates Standard Specifications - InformationWeek

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7/25/2006
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Power.org Creates Standard Specifications

The goal is to create a single instruction set for all Power-based processors.

Power.org, a collaborative organization formed to promote the use of the Power processor architecture technology, this week announced new initiatives, including the establishment of specifications for creating more compatible products using the various flavors of processors based on the architecture.

The organization has released a merged instruction-set architecture, which creates a single instruction set for all Power-based processors. The Power ISA version 2.03 incorporates the various capabilities of previous Power instruction set versions in an inclusive framework for developers of hardware and software products based on Power, says Bill Dykas, manager of Power ecosystem development for IBM and chair or the Power.org operations committee.

"Over the course of the past 10 to 15 years the Power architecture has take on a number of different variations, including IBM's Power used in our large P Series servers, the PowerPC processor used in Apple PCs, and embedded versions from Freescale Semiconductor," Dykas says. "This single instruction-set architecture will enable companies to build to a common set of tools with a common understanding for a common experience."

Also being introduced is the first collaboratively developed Power platform specification, called the Power Architecture Platform Reference specification. PAPR will provide a foundation for more rapid development of standardized products based around the Linux operating system.

Power.org also has created a unified branding strategy that includes a new logo that will be used as a symbol on all compliant products developed by the organization. The organization also announced addition of five new members, brining the total membership in Power.org to about 50 companies.

The Power architecture was originally developed in the early 1990s by IBM, Freescale (the former semiconductor arm of Motorola, which was spun off), and Apple Computer as a new processor architecture to be used in Apple PCs. Over the years the architecture was expanded for use in servers by IBM and with multiple versions used in embedded applications by Freescale.

Power.org was created about 18 months ago to promote continued and expanded use of the Power-based processors. Development of new applications and products based on the architecture gain renewed importance early this year when Apple dropped its use of PowerPC and switched to x86-based processors from Intel.

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