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IBM Goes Open Source on Key Microprocessor

Broader applications to come from easier access to its Power architecture

3 min read

30 April 2004--In the battle between the free, open-source operating system Linux and proprietary operating systems, IBM Corp. has emerged as Linux's champion. Now, seeming to take a lesson from its experience with open-source software, the company has decided to make its premier processor architecture, dubbed Power and used as the brains inside many IBM servers and supercomputers as well as Apple Computer Inc.'s Macintosh PCs, into an open-source technology.

On 31 March, the company announced that product developers will be able to license the Power architecture at little or no charge and customize it for their own products. Developers of a chip to be based on the Power architecture will be able to build it any way they want--using different generations of silicon technology or even materials other than silicon. They will also be able to add media and input/output drivers or other peripheral circuitry needed for their applications. In short, they will be free to do anything they choose, as long as the device can still run Power-based software.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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