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Freescale Climbs Aboard Power.org

IBM gained a significant partner in its efforts to expand the market for its Power architecture.

Freescale Semiconductor announced it has joined the Power.org, the organization started by IBM to promote its Power architecture. Specifically, Freescale said it planned to work with IBM to develop a common instruction set and move the Power architecture in to a broader set of customer implementations.

Freescale, a spin-off of Motorola, has long experience producing PowerPC chips, among others, including many for Apple which also used IBM as a supplier but more recently announced a switch to Intel.

But the move to Power.org indicates a much stronger commitment to work with IBM in promoting the processor line.

"Freescale and IBM are committed to the continued success of Power Architecture technology and to the expanding ecosystem of open tools, solutions and platforms within the Power.org community," said Michel Mayer, chairman and CEO of Freescale Semiconductor in a statement. "As allied leaders and founding members of Power.org, we have the technical and financial resources to drive the proliferation of Power Architecture microprocessor-based platforms throughout the consumer-driven, networked world."

Freescale is a major player in several markets. The Austin, TX-based company is one of the ten largest chip companies in the world. It's the number one supplier of semiconductors to the automotive industry, as well as semiconductors that process internet data. Freescale says it's produced chips for half a billion wireless devices since 1998 and boasts some 14,000 products.

Freescale's experience with Power Architecture technology complements that of existing members, and it has had a significant role in proliferating the architecture," said Joseph Byrne, senior analyst with The Linley Group. "With IBM and Freescale joining together again, this time with other stakeholders, Power Architecture technology maintains the advantage of having multiple chip suppliers."

Within Power.org, Freescale will join IBM in forming a Power Architecture Advisory Council (PAAC). The council will manage the architectural roadmap and alignment for Power Architecture technology, building new levels of extensibility and compatibility throughout the microprocessor developer community. The goal is to provide a seamless, compatible instruction set architecture designed to accommodate platforms scaling from low-cost, high-volume consumer electronics systems to high-performance enterprise and industrial applications.

Power.org got a boost last October when a high profile chip startup came out of stealth mode to announcement its plans to build a new processor line based on a license of the Power architecture. P.A. Semi had actually joined Power.org over a year earlier, but kept its membership and launch plans a secret until its October announcement. P.A. Semi is developing its own "PWRficient" line of high performance, low power consumption processors based on the Power instruction set.