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RealTime IT News

Big Blue Looks High for Low-Power

Less than a year after unveiling the first installment of a low-power chip family geared to conserve energy, the research arm of IBM Corp. has penned a deal with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop new technology for energy-efficient and high-performing computing platforms.

The deal comes on the heels of Big Blue's big bet on the PowerPC 405LP chip, which was designed with mobile computing devices in mind, particularly notebooks and other battery-powered devices.

Under the DARPA partnership, IBM plans to perform research on reliable, power-aware systems. "The results of the research will be prototyped in 2003 for some military applications by BAE Systems and used by IBM internally to develop power-efficient products," IBM said.

The Armonk, N.Y.-based tech giant also announced plans to develop design analysis tools to estimate and analyze the power consumption and performance of a PowerPC-based computing system.

"The tools could be useful for engineers building power-aware systems, as it can reduce the time to solution for producing low-power hardware and software by eliminating the need for expensive and difficult to use lab equipment for supporting the development of low-power systems," the company said.

With major expansion in the IT industry, IBM's low-power program has been making waves. Earlier this year, IBM showcased its experiment to put smaller, less power-consumptive components into personal digital assistants (PDAs) and cell phones and the company said its Low Power Center in Austin Texas is focused on all aspects of low-power computing, from device technology to applications, and is the focal point for the DARPA-funded research.

IBM researchers has already designed and implemented the 405LP ultra-low power embedded PowerPC processor, and the prototype of the Super Dense Server, styled as an energy-efficient computing cluster.

DARPA has pledged about $2 million in funding to support IBM's Low Power Center as part of the low-power program.