This is Sam Palmisano's last week at the top of IBM, a company he has been running more or less since he was tapped to be president and chief operating officer back in July 2000. Ginni Rometty, who had previously run IBM's worldwide sales and marketing group and a chunk of the Global Services behemoth for many years, was tapped …
Maybe, but I doubt it
IBM could sell off fab operations to Asian fab company XYZ as AMD has done, but z196 and Power 7 are not low end Opteron systems. If an AMD server/PC has issues, it is kind of what you expected to happen (you bought the low bid). No banks or governments run core transactional systems on AMD or ARM. System z and high end Power are expected to run flawlessly and generally do run flawlessly. The old x86 "hmm, I think there may be a bent pin or something" isn't going to fly. If IBM was intent on saving cost in z and Power manufacturing, they would have offshored manufacturing to Asia a decade ago. IBM z is still built in NY. IBM Power is built, predominantly, in Austin, TX and Rochester, MN. IBM doesn't cut corners with the high end systems. Not purely out of benevolence, but because there is a lot of software, services and other systems riding on these platforms. I doubt they will move fab completely to a third party in an outsourcing arrangement. They may use their facilities and equipment for certain operations, but I think IBM will retain control over the fab process. Also, if you look at the number of Power systems shipped now as compared to ten years ago, the number is way up (number of chips manufactured). This is not what you would expect to happen as Unix has been declining, but it is the case. Revenue does not reflect the increase in shipments because IBM lowered the cost of Unix systems substantially from Power 6 to Power 7. Now this is largely because their traditional Power competitors, HP and Sun Unix, have declined rapidly with IBM getting those customers that haven't wanted to jump into the x86 - Linux fray. x86 may eventually get to IBM as well... but it is the opposite of a "need to act" situation.
Re: Maybe, but I doubt it
Even if IBM wanted to offshore manufacturing (especially on the PowerPC) US govt would not let it.
ARM and x86 may rule the consumer market nowdays. However they are still minnows in the market for CPUs which go into hardened and ruggedized kit. That is divided between MIPS and PPC. While a lot of these designs are sublicensed to the likes of BAE nowdays they are still IBM IPR.
If the tradition is followed, we will see at least some of today's Power6, 7 and 7+ in this role in 5 years or so (with suitable downclocking) the same way we see PPC G4 with a BAE label being shipped in satellite, space and battlefield gear today.
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