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November 20, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

The star of one-time IBM Corp golden boy Phil Hester appears to be on the wane, today’s edition of our sister paper Unigram.X reports. His Systems Technology & Architecture Division, charged with developing common core hardware technologies and setting architectural standards for all the company’s computer divisions above personal computers has been dissolved. Tom Whiteside, the vice-president who has the Somerset PowerPC design centre as well as Power2 follow-on work, now reports to IBM Microelectronics Division, which manufactures PowerPC, memory chips and other logic devices, instead of Hester. Hester also reports to IBM Microelectronics, now as head of a newly-created Integrated Product Solutions Group whose role in life even insiders can’t figure out. Specifically he is responsible providing integrated product solutions to selected customers in focused market segments. That apparently includes system design, CPU technology, hardware components and software. The small team is based in Austin, Texas. The official line is that the Systems Technology & Architecture Division has been dissolved because it has met its goals: establish common server technology for use in the RS/6000 and AS/400 lines and eliminate redundancy – but long-time IBM watchers warn that the centrifugal forces within IBM design teams are so strong that without a man with a whip constantly standing over them, they will start to slip back into their own ways, and the AS/400 division will for example quietly change the input-output back to the way it always wanted instead of doing it the way the RS/6000 crowd had to have it done. That includes common chip, memory, input-output and power and cooling technologies for low-end, mid-range and high-performance design points. The product divisions – RS/6000, AS/400 and System/390 – regain control of all aspects of system design. Furthermore, IBM indicates it has now identified the point at which the RS/6000 and AS/400 lines become essentially the same unit, using identical components, differentiated by packaging and operating system.

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