IBM: Getting Out or Getting In?

New News . . .

IBM to sell PC business

IBM and Partners Introduce Cell; Cell To Be in Sony Playstation 3

. . . added to old news

IBM Processors (Cell?) To Be Used By XBox 2

IBM Makes Apple’s CPUs

IBM In Long-Term Partnership With AMD

What Do You Get?

Hmmmm. Somebody seems awfully interested in making CPUs lately.

How does the first item tie in with the rest? Ask yourself this. Where is the money being made in PCs these days? They’re being made in the chips, not the boxes.

If IBM isn’t making PCs anymore, why should it care about preserving the PC industry as it is today? If Joe Sixpack’s next PC is an XBox/Playstation, no sweat off IBM’s back any more.

By the time we get to 65nm, we’re looking at the $10 (to make) CPU. You don’t have to charge a whole lot to make good money from that, especially if you can concentrate on cost rather than speed.

What about AMD and Apple? The agreements are small-fry stuff, and after all, IBM is the one getting paid by the two companies to partner with it. IBM may be learning a lot of lessons from those two that those two never intended.

Even if Joe Sixpack jumps to console computing, there will always be PC/workstations (perhaps gamestations, too) for the real power users, so having an AMD in your stable is pretty handy.

Looking at all these events together, it’s hard to see anything else going on except IBM positioning itself to become a very big player in the CPU business: Blue vs. Blue.

It’s not impossible to see other explanations, though. IBM may just want to make sure it has enough business to keep its fabs busy, and isn’t really out to have a CPU deathmatch with Intel the second half of the decade.

But it sure looks like somebody’s setting themselves up to get into one should they choose a few years down the road.

IBM has a finger in every pie now, but isn’t leading with its chin. They aren’t IBM XBoxes or IBM Playstations (or G5s or Hammers). No, they’re Microsoft and Sony (along with Apple and AMD) machines, with other companies leading the charge while IBM supplies the ammo.

Is IBM getting out of the PC industry, or trying to replace it?


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