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IBM enables x86 apps to run on POWER systems

Reader Jay Blair pointed me to this story at DaniWeb

IBM has today announced the availability of an open beta version of its virtual Linux environment to enable x86 Linux applications to run without modification on POWER processor-based IBM System p servers. Designed to reduce power, cooling and space by consolidating x86 Linux workloads on System p servers, it will eventually be released as the roles off the tongue ‘IBM System p Application Virtual Environment (System p AVE).’

How’s it work?

Behind the scenes, p AVE creates a virtual x86 environment and file structure, and executes x86 Linux applications by dynamically translating and mapping x86 instructions and system calls to a POWER Architecture processor-based system. It uses caching to optimize performance, so an application’s performance can actually increase the longer it runs.

Hmmm…byte translation. We do that now on Macs to run old POWER-based application binaries on Intel’s chips. The technology works pretty well, although power users of hungry apps like Photoshop say that a native application is noticeably faster. Not being a Photoshop power user myself, I have to say I’m perfectly happy with the performance. Of course, I’m not running enterprise apps on expensive POWER equipment from IBM. One presumes the target audience for this technology is performance-sensitive, so it will be interesting to see how this actually does in the wild.

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