International Business Machines Corp. said it is making the design of its "blade" computer servers widely available, in a move designed to gain wider acceptability in data centers and the telecommunications industry. IBM said that opening the design of its blade servers -- which are made up of many small safe-deposit box sized components that can be easily removed or added -- will allow other companies more easily to make gears that work with them. IBM's blade servers, called Bladecenter, are designed in partnership with Intel Corp. IBM said it and Intel will not charge any royalty fees and no patent licensing will be required. "We both agreed that we would drive significantly more innovation, a larger number of partners in the ecosystem if we open things up," Jeff Benck, vice president of blade servers at IBM, told Reuters in an interview. IBM and Intel will provide technical support to assist product development, including design guidelines and fee-based support. Blade servers compete with the widely-sold rack servers, which are built with pizza-box sized components. The blade servers are seen as space-saving and easier to use than bulkier systems, informs Reuters. According to the NYTimes, IBM plans to announce today that it will share the designs and technology for a fast-growing line of computers known as blade servers. The move is an effort to enlarge I.B.M.'s lead in an emerging market by making it easier for other hardware and software companies to build products for the company's machines. The announcement reflects I.B.M.'s recent strategy of trying to gain a competitive advantage by sharing some of its intellectual property with industry partners and by embracing open technology standards. Earlier this year, the company opened up its microprocessor business somewhat, giving partners more access to its technology and distributing free software tools for chip design to help customers develop custom chips. And I.B.M. has been a leading corporate supporter of collaborative software projects like Linux, a free operating system maintained and improved by a network of programmers. Blade computers combine processing, network connections and some storage on a single circuit board. The servers - each as thin as a knife blade - slide like drawers into a chassis that resembles a miniature, high-tech bureau; an average chassis may hold four or five servers. The computers have a lower price tag and use less power than traditional servers; also, because they include multiple blades in a single unit, they can be easier to monitor and manage than row after row of traditional stand-alone servers. Blade servers are powered by the lower-cost microprocessors of personal computing, made by Intel and Advanced Micro Devices , or by I.B.M.'s Power processors.
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