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IBM unveils Power8 processors to challenge Intel’s x86 server dominance

IBM has unveiled its new Power8 processors, which are built on an open server platform, and designed to take on Intel's dominance in the server market.

IBM boasts that its new Power Systems servers will enable data centres to crunch vast amounts of data at extremely swift speeds. According to the company's own testing, these new servers will be capable of analysing data no less than fifty times faster than contemporary Intel x86 systems. Indeed, IBM reckons that some firms have found analytic queries running around a thousand times faster, meaning wait times are reduced from hours to seconds.

This big data taming technology has been under development for over three years, and has seen some $2.4 billion (£1.4 billion) of investment to come to fruition.

When it comes to cracking the server market, though, there's far more to that proposition than just the hardware. With that in mind, IBM is trying to gather muscle behind it in the form of the OpenPower Foundation, and has released all the tech specs for its Power8 CPUs, inviting collaboration from all sources.

The Foundation currently consists of more than 25 tech giants, including Google, Nvidia, and Samsung.

Tom Rosamilia, Senior VP of IBM Systems and Technology Group, commented: "This is the first truly disruptive advancement in high-end server technology in decades, with radical technology changes and the full support of an open server ecosystem that will seamlessly lead our clients into this world of massive data volumes and complexity. There no longer is a one-size-fits-all approach to scale out a data centre. With our membership in the OpenPower Foundation, IBM's Power8 processor will become a catalyst for emerging applications and an open innovation platform."

IBM has announced three new Power Systems solutions which are tailored for speedy real-time data crunching via Power8 and IBM's analytics software, namely IBM Solution for BLU Acceleration, IBM Solution for Analytics and IBM Solution for Hadoop.

This move is a server land grab which could have potentially major ramifications for IBM and indeed Intel. For an in-depth discussion of the issue, see our closer look at IBM's Power8 and OpenPower Foundation, which mulls over this venture's chances of success.