Taiwan Gets Its Own Power Systems Lab
April 11, 2011 Timothy Prickett Morgan
The name is International Business Machines, these days that means riding the second wave of globalization. In the first wave after World War II, companies from different parts of the globe busted open new markets and sold their products in far-away countries. In the second wave, which we have been living through for the past decade, companies have global supply chains and workforces and they move jobs where they can be done the cheapest or where they need to be for political reasons.
And so it is that IBM is opening up its very first Power Systems laboratory in the Asia/Pacific region. In this case, it will be located in Taipei City, Taiwan, not on mainland China where Big Blue just opened up a factory to make Power Systems. That factory is in Shenzhen, China, one of the big manufacturing regions. As The Four Hundred told you last October, IBM closed down a Power Systems factory outside of Dublin, Ireland, and moved manufacturing to the much cheaper Shenzhen plant. The Irish plant was making entry and midrange Power boxes. High-end Power Systems as well as System z manufacturing for Europe used to be done in Ireland as well, but in May 2010, IBM spent $90 million to move those operations to Singapore. IBM spent $30 million last year to upgrade its factory in Poughkeepsie, New York, where high-end Power Systems and all System z servers are made for the Americas. The Pokie lab is also where IBM designs its mainframe processors.
“IBM is building this capability in Taiwan to serve the market opportunity for Power Systems in emerging markets and globally,” said Tom Rosamilia, general manager of Power and z Systems at IBM. “The new Power Systems Development Laboratory will extend IBM’s leadership in systems expertise to allow us to continue to gain market share across the board.”
IBM already had a lab in Taiwan for server and storage product design. Lots of server and storage makers do since the ODMs and OEMs that actually make the parts of servers or whole machines on behalf of server makers are located in Taiwan. The China Development Lab is also located in Taiwan, which does various software projects (including bits of IBM i 6.1 and 7.1 more recently). Janice Wang, who joined IBM in 1986 and brought the first Chinese version of DOS to market and who managed the China Development Lab, has been put in charge of the New Power Systems lab in China.
IBM’s Austin, Texas, lab will continue to design Power processors and chipsets and the Rochester, Minnesota, lab will work on elements of systems design (including BlueGene supercomputers) and do manufacturing for all of the Americas. The Taiwan Power Systems lab is going to work on making systems that use future Power processors more efficient, leaving the processor design–at least for now–to the Texans and the New Yorkers who work for IBM Microelectronics.
I don’t think that IBM will offshore (from the United States point of view) the design and manufacturing of all Power Systems machines any time soon. Uncle Sam likes to have its high-end supercomputer iron Made in America, and not fall in the hands of other governments. But I would not be at all surprised to see IBM work on common sockets for Power and X64 processors at some point in the future and make most of its machinery overseas.