The release of the software -- Application Virtual Environment, or AVE -- reflects IBM's new strategy of making the System p a broader platform for Linux applications. There are currently 2,800 Linux applications that run natively on the Unix-based system. IBM hopes the software will capitalize on its customers' needs to use Linux for their back-end server functions, as well as implementing virtualization in the data center.
AVE allows x86 Linux binaries to run unmodified in the System p, making it possible to consolidate more applications in the server. IBM currently has more than 25 beta testers of the AVE software and is opening up the program to all customers, business partners, and independent software vendors.
Initial testing of AVE shows that a wide range of x86-based applications can run on System p and IBM's BladeCenter Js20 and JS21 servers using a Linux operating system. The software creates a virtual x86 environment and file structure and executes applications by translating and mapping instructions and system calls to a Power-based system. The AVE uses caching to optimize performance.
ISVs should be able to offer x86 applications for the System p without having to recompile, release new documentation, or maintain a separate product for Power, IBM said. The AVE is available for download through IBM's Web site. The software is scheduled for general release in the second half of the year.