Big Blue Names Eight New IBM Fellows
June 8, 2009 Timothy Prickett Morgan
IBM last week announced eight new elite researchers who have been given the elite designation IBM Fellow. A number of them have worked on the technologies underpinning the systems you are currently using or most likely will at some point in the near future.
Perhaps the most significant new fellow is Hung Le, who works as a chip designer in IBM’s Systems and Technology Group, specifically at its Austin, Texas, Power Systems labs. Le has had a hand in a lot of different System z and Power processor designs, starting with the Power3 chip that was announced for IBM’s RS/6000 workstations and servers in 1998 and culminating in key technologies used in the most recent Power6 chips. Le has contributed to IBM’s super-scalar, out-of-order execution, and simultaneous multithreading technologies for Power chips, and is current the lead developer for the Power7 processor.
Satya Sharma, the chief architect of the AIX operating system and one of the key people helping to develop the Power7 chip, was also named an IBM Fellow last week. (If you find yourself cursing out the Virtual I/O Server underpinning your i 6.1 implementation, that’s Sharma’s work, too.) Sharma also doubles up as the chief technology officer for the Power Systems division these days, too.
Roger Schmidt, a scientist working for Systems and Technology Group with expertise in electronic cooling and data center thermal management, was also knighted as an IBM Fellow thanks in part to the 100 patents he has granted or pending. Mike Kaczmarski, who was one of the creators of IBM’s Tivoli Storage Manager and who helped modularize and rationalize IBM’s Tivoli family of software from his position within Software Group, was also given the Fellow title, as was Software Group’s TimVincent, currently the chief architect for DB2 and one of the leaders who has woven XML into the Windows, Unix, and Linux variant of DB2. (The next release of the i platform will feature this “pureXML” technology.)
Chieko Asakawa of IBM Research labs in Tokyo was given the Fellow title thanks to her more than two decades of work on making computing technology accessible to people with various handicaps and on promoting women in engineering. Laura Haas, of IBM Research’s San Jose lab, was made a Fellow because of her work in helping IBM create software that can cope with unstructured as well as structured data, and Martin Sepulveda, a doctor working from IBM HQ in Armonk, is the first IBM Fellow to be given that title because of his work in occupational health and healthcare reform.
IBM has been naming Fellows for the past 49 years, and in that time only 218 have been given this honor. Including these eight people mentioned above, there are 75 Fellows currently working at Big Blue, a list you can see here, and one very important name has never been added to this list: Frank Soltis, the chief architect of the System/38 and AS/400.
Of course, I complained about this three years ago, when Soltis was still in the employ of Big Blue, and of course, he retired from IBM late last year, so there is no chance he will be named a Fellow now. And that, quite frankly (so to speak), is a bit insulting to the transformative nature of the System/38 and AS/400 computers. The architecture Soltis outlined so many years ago in his PhD thesis more than 30 years ago was a truly innovative and brilliant design, and it has been responsible for tens of billions of dollars in sales for Big Blue, and billions of dollars in profits. I guess Soltis opened his mouth and spoke the uncomfortable truths a few too many times, both inside of IBM and out. We all know he deserves to be a Fellow, no matter what the suits think in Armonk and Somers. (Insert rude gesture of your own choosing aimed at slightly to the north of New York City.)