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Google Partners Rackspace for OpenPower Server Design

Alphabet Inc.GOOGL announced on Wednesday that it is teaming up with Rackspace Hosting, Inc. RAX on a new open source project.

The duo will co-develop a next generation data centerserver using International Business Machines Corporation’s IBM POWER9 architecture that will be released next year. The server code named “Zaius” will be a dual-processor design.

The final design fitting the 48V Open Compute racks will be disseminated through Facebook, Inc.’s FB Open Compute Project (OCP) form factor.

The new move shows Google’s growing intention toward viable alternatives to Intel, which dominates almost the entire server market with its x86-based products.

The search giant decided to vouch for much smaller Rackspace, given its experience in OCP and IBM’s current POWER8 processor.

Rackspace has already given its IBM POWER8 based mother board “Barreleye” to OCP. It has declared that “Barreleye” is ready to move from testing to production.

Google is also working with Qualcomm to explore the potential of ARM-designed chips as Intel’s alternative. OpenPower and ARM are aggressively trying to push into Intel’s space.

Given that Google is one of the founding members of the OpenPower Foundation, we do not see its new move as an effort to replace Intel but to keep an alternative ready for protecting itself and other tech companies from price hikes and other contingencies.

According to Google’s senior director of Infrastructure, Gordon MacKean, “Google hasn’t switched to servers running on OpenPower chips, or to processors based on designs by ARM Holdings Plc, but Google is now ready for a day when it makes sense to migrate.”

In response, Intel spokesman Mark Miller stated “We continue to be great partners and work closely with both Google and Rackspace to ensure Intel is best for their workloads.” “But we also recognize it’s a competitive industry and understand the need for ongoing experimentation," he added.

At present, Google has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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