New IBM-Apple chip to run dual operating systems

In 2005, IBM plans to allow its PowerPC 970 processor line to run multiple operating systems simultaneously, CNET reported. The chips are used in Macintosh computers manufactured by Apple Computer and in IBM’s blade servers.

The partitioning technology relies on a concept called virtualization that breaks the hard link between an operating system and the underlying hardware. Partitioning is available today only on servers using IBM’s Power4 and Power5 processors and in competing server designs from Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard and Intel.

IBM is in the midst of an effort to make its Power family of processors an alternative not just to high-end rivals, but also to widely used x86 chips such as Intel’s Pentium and Advanced Micro Devices’ Opteron.

A key ally in the Power effort is Apple, which uses the PowerPC 970FX in its desktop and server computers. IBM also uses the chip in its thin JS20 blade servers. The company is rounding up other partners to promote and develop the Power family.

Servers using Power4 and Power5 chips require additional management console hardware to manage partitions. With the next-generation PowerPC 970, IBM plans to run that hardware management console as software in a separate partition.

IBM declined to comment on when the chip is scheduled to arrive, but both IBM and Apple plan to use it as soon as it becomes available.

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